Three volunteer groups in Dumfries and Galloway have been royally recognised in this year’s Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.
The QAVS is the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK and two of this year’s winners are in Wigtownshire – the Port William Community Association and the West Galloway Branch of St John Scotland. In the east, Annan Riding of The Marches received recogntion.
The Lord-Lieutenant for Wigtown, Mrs Aileen Brewis, said: “It is extremely gratifying that two of our outstanding voluntary organisations have been awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service for the outstanding work they carry out in our communities.
“West Galloway Branch of St John Scotland literally do ‘go the extra mile’ to provide a unique, bespoke, life-enhancing, and caring service for cancer patients. These dedicated volunteers operate 365 days a year driving clinically vulnerable patients to hospitals as far away as Edinburgh and Glasgow, waiting for them and then driving them home again in comfort.
“Highly respected by health professionals, the group works closely with the Oncology Unit at Dumfries Hospital and also the Galloway Community Hospital in Stranraer where there is a two-bed St John palliative care unit. Other St John volunteers are here carrying out wonderful work comforting patients and their families during their time in the unit.
“The Port William Community Hub, meanwhile, is an enthusiastic and dedicated voluntary group at the heart of its community. It has been in existence for more than 70 years and its dedication to its village and surrounding area is outstanding. The volunteers embody a true community spirit and work with local organisations to organise many social activities throughout the year including the annual village Summer Carnival Week.
“During the pandemic, volunteers were very busy helping older and vulnerable people with practical issues such as shopping or collecting prescriptions. Their service to their local community is truly fantastic, and this award is richly deserved.’
Derek Crichton, Interim Chief Executive for Dumfries and Galloway Council said: “The acts of kindness from the volunteers at the West Galloway Branch are truly breathtaking, and public recognition puts a well-deserved spotlight on this community support for people in need.”
‘I am proud of the selfless work undertaken by the villagers in Port William. It is a truly unique example of people coming together to serve the common good.”
In Dumfriesshire, meanwhile, volunteers working with Annan Riding of the Marches have won their Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service for being at the heart of the community over many decades and for providing a historic event that promotes community spirit.
Fiona Armstrong, Lord-Lieutenant of Dumfries, said: ‘Volunteers with Annan Riding of the Marches richly deserve this award. Their hard work and enthusiasm over so many years means local culture thrives and tradition lives on. The event is one that unites the whole community. It instils pride and brings inclusivity. Here in Dumfriesshire, we are so proud of the work done by the committee and members.’
Mr Crichton said: “This recognition is fully deserved. Volunteers with Annan Riding of the Marches go above and beyond to deliver a historic event that means so much to the people of Annan as well as the many visitors nationally and internationally’.
The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service was created in 2002 to celebrate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee. It is known as ‘the MBE of volunteering’ and recognises outstanding work by volunteer groups to benefit their local communities.
Since the awards were introduced, the number of nominations has steadily increased, showing that the voluntary sector is thriving and full of innovative ideas to make life better for communities. Past award winners in Dumfries and Galloway include D & G Blood Bikes, the D & G Befriending Project, Castle Loch Lochmaben Community Trust, D & G LGBT Plus, Sports Driving Unlimited, Galloway Mountain Rescue Team and Kirkcudbright Summer Festivals.