More than a dozen voluntary organisations across Scotland are celebrating today after being honoured by the Queen.
From large-scale charitable events like Celebrate Aberdeen, to initiatives tackling loneliness such as Aberchirder and Westhill Men’s Sheds and a community radio station, groups across the north and north-east have been recognised.
The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service is the highest award given to charitable organisations and celebrates those who are the “backbone of local communities”.
In total, 241 charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups across the UK have been recognised this year – with 18 of those in Scotland.
Tiny team behind big parade say award is ‘really lovely’
Organisers of Celebrate Aberdeen – a huge parade championing the third sector across the north-east – are among those who have been recognised.
Volunteers work year-round to put on the parade and two days of music in August, and an awards ceremony a month later, “without expecting anything at all in return”.
Celebrate Aberdeen founder Morven Mackenzie said: “To win such a prestigious award as the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service is testament to all their hard work and efforts, and it really is lovely to see their contribution and commitment honoured in this way.
“The north-east’s third sector is so important to our region and we will continue to do as much as we can to make sure that those who work and volunteer within it get the recognition they very much deserve.”
Aberdeen Cyrenians have also been honoured for their work over the last 50 years to support those affected by homelessness.
Chief executive Mike Burns said it was a “wonderful achievement” for the volunteers, particularly after an “exceptionally difficult year”.
Many of those awarded have been praised for adapting in response to Covid – like Westhill and District Men’s Shed, who used a 3D printer to produce 2,700 face shields for care staff in Aberdeenshire.
Garioch Community Kitchen, which provides practical, hands-on cookery classes and runs a pop-up cafe to tackle loneliness, also quickly adapted during lockdown and produced and delivered 1,300 food parcels to families most in need.
Sarah Bell, business development manager for the group, based in Inverurie, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have the work of our organisation and dedicated volunteers recognised with this award.
“We are a small team at the Garioch Community Kitchen and without the help, support and hard work of our volunteers both past and present we would not be able to deliver the service we do within the community.”
Sandy Manson, Lord Lieutenant of Aberdeenshire, hailed the work of both groups and said they had made a “positive and significant contribution” to their communities.
Social groups who support communities make a ‘significant’ difference
Aberchirder Men’s Shed and Cullen Volunteer Group have both also been recognised for their efforts to support their community while also offering companionship to each other.
The men’s shed not only gives those in the community a place to work on their hobbies and meet others, but is always ready to support local groups such as the community association and Scouts and steward events including Ride the North.
Cullen Volunteer Group, meanwhile, also boosts socialising and organises walks and litter-picks. Members have also developed footpaths, spruced up amenities, created information boards for visitors and worked hard to make Castle Hill a landmark for the town.
Andrew Simpson, Lord Lieutenant of Banffshire, congratulated the two groups and said they make a “significant difference” to the lives of those in their communities.
“They are both very worthy winners of this prestigious award,” he added. “During our assessment visits we were impressed by their commitment to serving the people in their area.”
‘Magnificent’ award winners touch ‘every area of need’
In Fort William, Nevis Radio and its volunteers are celebrating today.
The team has been recognised for their efforts to work closely with local high schools and West Highland College to support the next generation of radio presenters.
John Weller, chairman of Nevis Community Radio, said: “It is so pleasing to be recognised as a valued service within our community and even further afield around the globe where we have regular listeners tuning in to hear music and the interaction they like.”
Sir Martyn Lewis, chairman of the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service independent committee, said: “This year’s magnificent award winning groups touch virtually every area of need across our society.
“They also highlight the growing and key role which volunteers are playing in times of rapid change and unprecedented challenges. Whether driven by a neighbourly passion to help others or to achieve that well recognised “high” of personal satisfaction, volunteering taps into a rich spirit of generosity, ingenuity and kindness.”
Scottish Secretary Iain Stewart congratulated those whose “hard work and dedication” has helped those in need over the last 12 months.
He added: “From Westhill and District Men’s Shed tackling male loneliness in Aberdeenshire, to Shopper-Aide’s work to support the elderly in Kintyre, these 18 Scottish organisations showcase the incredible contribution voluntary groups make to communities. Their kind and generous spirit has never been more important than during the Covid-19 pandemic.”
The QAVs were launched in 2002 to celebrate the Queen’s golden jubilee. A garden party will be held at Holyroodhouse Palace in July for some of the recipients.
Nominations for the 2022 awards close on September 15.
The 18 Scottish winners are below, but you can also view the full list here.
Aberdeen Cyrenians: Tackling homelessness and helping those in crisis through poverty, abuse, addiction and mental illness.
Celebrate Aberdeen: Organising events to shine a light on the region’s remarkable third sector.
Garioch Community Kitchen: Providing a range of practical food-skills workshops within an Aberdeenshire community.
Westhill & District Men’s Shed: Promoting members’ wellbeing by providing social facilities and workshops for community projects.
Aberchirder & District Men’s Shed: Providing a welcome community for people to meet, acquire shared skills and combat loneliness.
Cullen Volunteer Group: Maintaining and developing public assets and spaces in Cullen for the benefit of the community.
Lochaber Hope: Delivering person centred services to the community and reaching out to those most vulnerable.
Nevis Community Radio Ltd: Serving the community of Lochaber delivering entertainment, companionship and local information.
West Highland Museum Trust: Making the heritage and culture of Lochaber accessible to all.
Cromarty Care Project: Responding to community needs, providing help and support to vulnerable people.
ARGYLL AND BUTE
Shopper-Aide: Providing vital services to older people in the Kintyre Peninsula including the island of Gigha.
PERTH AND KINROSS
Broke Not Broken: Tackling the many effects of poverty and need in Kinross-shire.
East Kilbride and District Young Farmers Club: Educating and developing young people to realise their full potential.
Belville Community Garden Trust: Building a caring community by transforming a derelict site into a vibrant community asset.
Compassionate Inverclyde: Inspiring and empowering ordinary people in times of need through acts of kindness in Inverclyde.
Bridgend Farmhouse: Transforming a derelict farmhouse into a community- owned hub for learning, work and community growth.
3D Drumchapel: Journeying with families in North West Glasgow and supporting to develop strong family relationships.
Scottish Ethnic Minority Sports Association: Encouraging participation of ethnic minorities in sport, promoting equality, challenging discrimination