The Queen will today hail the inspirational work of volunteers in 60 organisations as part of her Diamond Jubilee celebrations.
The Scouts, the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution and St John Ambulance are among those on the roll of honour with whom Her Majesty has a long history.
Newer outfits include Team London Ambassadors – who in pink and purple uniforms helped visitors to the Olympics and Parlaympics – as well as the England and Wales Cricket Board, and StreetGames UK, which helps bring sport to the disadvantaged.
Together the recipients of The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Volunteering Award 2012 have trained many thousands of volunteers, raised millions of pounds for good causes and given huge support to those in need.
Buckingham Palace will hold a reception next year for the recipients.
The list is designed to reflect the ‘diversity, optimism and excitement’ of Britain’s year of celebration.
Chairman of the awards, former BBC newsreader Martyn Lewis CBE, said: ‘The 60 organisations have built their success on the dedication and generosity of thousands of extraordinary people, each of whom has devoted their time and energy to the simple aim of making their communities – and their country – a better place.
‘Day-in, day-out volunteers are making a contribution to every aspect of our society – working with the elderly, supporting young people and reaching out to those in need.
‘Volunteering is as fundamental to British life as rain at Wimbledon or the local pub – and what better way to recognise it than with an award from Her Majesty in her Diamond Jubilee year?’
Mr Lewis said he hopes the awards will encourage people to step forward so that volunteering becomes the ‘great legacy of the Second Elizabethan age’ – whether helping an elderly neighbour or rattling a collection tin outside a local station. ‘Some people volunteer full-time, many part-time, others for only an hour a week – but all make a contribution,’ he said.
The chief executive of the Scout Association, Derek Twine, said that they were ‘humbled and delighted’. He stressed that without the efforts of their volunteers, more than 425,000 Scouts wouldn’t be able to enjoy ‘the kind of everyday adventures’ that make the organisation such a success even today.
Emma Cronin, head of volunteering at Make-A-Wish Foundation UK, which offers children fighting life-threatening conditions a once-in-a-lifetime experience, added: ‘Our volunteers really are an intrinsic and valued part of our charity.’
Another award winner, Sue Ryder, a national charity providing health and social care services in local communities, said that it had benefited from the work of 12,588 volunteers in the last year contributing 4,285,203 hours of their time.
Nick Hurd, Minister for Civil Society, said that the list is like a ‘Who’s Who of some of our most important charities and voluntary organisations’.
‘It is a testament to the enduring strength and immeasurable contribution of volunteers over the past 60 years,’ he said.
‘The stories behind these awards show what people can achieve when they come together.
‘I hope they will inspire more people to come forward to contribute and gain from all that volunteering offers.’
The Diamond Jubilee Award is a special, one-off category of The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, which was established a decade ago as part of the UK honours system to recognise the work of grassroots organisations.
More than 1,000 community groups have been honoured to date.
The 2013 Buckingham Palace reception will recognise ten years of the award scheme.
Speaking from a personal view point in addition to the work I do as a local Councillor in Eastbourne I also volunteer as a Driver for Cuckmere Community Bus (which is the oldest Community Bus Company operating in Britain having been formed in 1976). I started this during a short period out of work earlier this year to keep myself in some form of routine whilst looking for new employment and I have continued since finding new work to drive for half a day each weekend.
I have always enjoyed driving and thoroughly enjoy seeing the different Sussex villages I pass through as the seasons changes. Some of the views are truly spectacular and never cease to remind me how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful County but the life line that the services offer to rural communities, (many of which would have no transport links at all without our buses) are massively appreciated by those who use them and our business model helps keep costs of the provision of these services to the minimum for the County Council which delivers better value for all tax payers too.
So if you can spare a little time on a regular basis, I would thoroughly recommend seeing what opportunities exist near you to volunteer!