The work of voluntary organisations in the north-east has been recognised with a top award.
North East Open Studios (Neos) and the Invercairn Gala Committee are among groups across the country being honoured with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service (QAVS).
The QAVS are the highest award which is given to local volunteer groups across the UK- recognising outstanding work done in their own communities.
The recipients were announced today, to coincide with the anniversary of Her Majesty’s coronation.The awards have been likened to “the MBE for volunteer groups”.
NEOS, provides an informal contact network for artists, makers and gallery owners and help the public access creative talent across the north-east of Scotland.
NEOS Chair Fiona Duckett, said: “We are beyond delighted – it’s just incredible to have won this award. Our 10-storng committee has worked tirelessly for 17 years and never expected this!”
Also receiving an award was the Invercairn Gala Committee. Comprised of a dedicated core of 28 volunteers, they organise an annual week of events between the villages of Cairnbulg and Inverallochy, and raise funds for local beneficiaries.
It has been a fixture in the local calendar for the past 19 years.
Michael Summers, chairman of the committee, said: “It is a remarkable achievement to be recognised nationally and very pleasing.
“We are a small group of people working for the benefit of our community at a time when community spirit is at the forefront of everyone’s minds.”
The Lord-Lieutenant of Aberdeenshire, Mr Alexander Manson, who represents Her Majesty the Queen in the county, said: “I am absolutely delighted that both NEOS and Invercairn Gala have received this very prestigious award.
“The awards are a wonderful testament to the creativity and hard work of the many volunteers involved in both groups and the significant and valuable contribution they make to cultural and community life in Aberdeenshire.
Sir Martyn Lewis, chairman of the QAVS independent committee, said: “There have been a record number of groups winning a QAVS this year-281 in all across the UK.
“These are major stars in local communities.
“The award recognises the amazing contribution made by previously unsung volunteers who have freely given their time and talent to identify and successfully tackle a wide range of issues and problems in local communities.
“There really is no limit to the ingenuity of the award winners.”
And Banff and Buchan MP David Duguid has congratulated Portsoy Community Enterprise (PCE) after it also received the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.
PCE is a social enterprise that offers the local community and visitors the opportunity to take part in cultural experiences whilst supporting the tourism economy of the area.
The group is behind the annual Scottish International Boat Festival, as well as The Salmon Bothy, The Boatshed, Portsoy Links Caravan Park and The Sail Loft.
Mr Duguid said: “This is fantastic news and I am delighted for all involved with Portsoy Community Enterprise.
“The boat festival has been a tremendous success since its inception in 1993 – at the time intended to be a one-off event.
“Since then, the group has provided year-round facilities and cultural opportunities for the local community and visitors alike.
“Their efforts not only add to the appeal of this beautiful coastal town but also benefit the wider north-east economy and tourism sector.”
Aberdeen Street Pastors was also among the organisations to win an award.
The group of volunteers, taken from churches across the city, has maintained a presence on the streets every Friday and Saturday night for nearly 13 years.
It trains volunteers to work from the streets and its “Safe Space” vehicle, supporting people enjoying or working in Aberdeen’s night-time economy.
Aberdeen Street Pastors co-ordinator Adrian Rowett said: “I am absolutely delighted that our group’s work of listening, caring and helping in the weekend night-time economy of Aberdeen city has been recognised.
“It pays tribute to the consistent, patient and gracious hard work of our volunteers, both past and current, serving in the city for almost 13 years.”
Director Gerry Bowyer added: “Street pastors work in partnership with churches, Police Scotland, Aberdeen Inspired, the city council and many other organisations. It is the strength of partnership working and our amazing volunteers that have brought a positive and tangible change to the quality of Aberdeen’s night-time economy.”
The organisation is one of 22 street pastor initiatives in Scotland and is the first to win the QVS award.
Station House Media Unit (Shmu) has also been named among the winners.
The charity supports more than 200 volunteers every week on issues such as media initiatives in regeneration areas, employability programmes and media work at HMP Grampian.
Chief executive Murray Dawson said: “It is an incredible honour for our organisation to have secured the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.
“We just wouldn’t exist without our amazing volunteers and every one of them has played a part in our story over the last 20 years.
“We’re delighted that their hard work, dedication and commitment to the organisation and the impact that all of their efforts have had on their communities has been recognised by this award.”
Any group of two or more people that has participated in voluntary work for more than three years can be nominated for the award.
Full details on how to nominate are available at www.lordlieutenant-aberdeenshire.co.uk
Nominations for the 2021 awards are currently open and close on September 25.