The Swindon Down’s Syndrome Group has been announced as one of 103 UK volunteering groups to win this year’s The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the MBE for volunteer groups.
The prestigious National Honour recognises outstanding contributions made to local communities by groups voluntarily devoting their time for the benefit of others. It sets the national benchmark for excellence in volunteering, with the work of those awarded being judged of the highest standard.
The Swindon Down’s Syndrome Group has been supporting families in Swindon since 1984 and their work has grown extensively throughout these years. In addition to providing support and information, they provide weekly speech and language therapy, resource packs for schools and pre-schools, training days, sports lessons with specialist coaches, coffee afternoons, outings, trips and parties.
Winners of this year’s Award were selected from 341 groups nominated by members of the public who have been helped personally or witnessed the benefits of a group’s work in their community.
The Swindon Down’s Syndrome Group will receive a certificate signed by the Queen and an exclusive commemorative crystal, presented by Her Majesty’s representative in Wiltshire, John Bush at a special ceremony. The group has also received an invitation for representatives to attend a Royal Garden Party at Buckingham Palace in the summer.
Speaking of their success, Kim West, Jo Messenger and Nicky Parker from The Swindon Down’s Syndrome Group said: "We are honoured and humbled to have received this prestigious award for the work that we do for supporting our people with Down’s Syndrome and their families in the Swindon area". The nomination was made by Cliff Puffett and supported by their Patron Howard Taylor.
The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service Main Award Committee Chair and former broadcast journalist Martyn Lewis CBE said, "Outstanding volunteer groups across the UK all too often go without recognition for the truly amazing work they do, despite the vital part they play in helping bind our communities together. It’s a great pleasure to celebrate the efforts of The Swindon Down’s Syndrome Group with The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service and help raise awareness of all they do for the benefit of others."
More than 850 groups around the UK, Channel Islands and Isle of Man have now won the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, over the eight years since it was created by Her Majesty to mark the occasion of her Golden Jubilee in 2002.
For details of all this year’s Award winners and information on how to nominate a group, visit www.direct.gov.uk/thequeensawardforvoluntaryservice, where a nomination form can be downloaded.
Celebrating the award at Swindon Town FC, front, Sophie West, Oliver Messenger, Stephen Thomas. Back, Kim West, Jenny Williams, Chris Tanner of Swindon Town FC, Julie Thomas, Michael Lavin, charity partron Howard Taylor, Nick Watkins, chief executive Swindon Town FC, Jo Messenger