Image demonstrating Voluntary organisations receive prestigious Queen’s Award 

Voluntary organisations receive prestigious Queen’s Award 

Three voluntary organisations in Northumberland have been awarded the prestigious Queen’s Award for their service to the community. 
Northumberland County Blind Association, Tynedale Agricultural Society and Wag & Company Friendship Dogs were presented with the awards by Her Grace, The Duchess of Northumberland, in her capacity as Lord-Lieutenant of Northumberland, at a special ceremony at Alnwick Castle.  
Created in 2002 to celebrate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee, the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service recognises outstanding work by volunteer groups. Recipients are announced each year on 2nd June, the anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation. 

The three organisations have known about their awards since last year but due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the presentation ceremony did not take place until now 

Northumberland County Blind Association, based in Morpeth, has been running for over 20 years and provides advice, information services and support to vulnerable, socially isolated and visually impaired people living in Northumberland. 

At the heart of the service are over 100 volunteers, some visually impaired themselves, who are essential in the running of the Association. Over 1,000 visually impaired people of all ages benefit each year. 

The volunteers carry out many active roles including befriending, running social groups, providing advice and information and developing and delivering newsletters. They drive people to hospital or other appointments and provide invaluable emotional support, ether over the phone or through home visits. They also support with IT, administration and fundraising. 

Tynedale Agricultural Society [TAS] has a long and proud tradition of serving their community, Northumberland and beyond. This volunteer driven society stages the annual county show, bringing together clubs and societies, and a keenly nurtured community spirit where many rural workers can feel isolated and alone. 

The highly successful show boosts the local economy and appreciation of the countryside and a love of the deeper cultural heritage of the district. 
The society operates on well-established foundations and financial surpluses facilitate outreach activity into urban schools developing an enduring understanding of town, country and the rural way of life; donations also go to the Air Ambulance, Tynedale Hospice and the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Society, which helps rural workers in difficult circumstances. TAS helps young, local students with bursaries as they embark on rural economy further education courses making a viable possibility of an improved working life in the community. Their leadership provides support to smaller shows and cultural exhibitions across the whole of the North of England. TAS has helped sustain rural crafts, traditions, as well as good, honest competition among the young rural workers and visitors.  
Wag & Company North east Friendship Dogs is a charitable group of volunteers with friendly dogs that visit the elderly in their own homes, or in care or medical establishments. 
The group has been operating since 2016 and has 370 volunteers who visit lonely dog lovers right across the north east of England providing thousands of visits, with many lives touched and enriched.  
Some of the elderly people the charity visits are profoundly lonely and isolated and miss the company of their friends and former pets. When the volunteers visit, they get the benefit of both a four-legged and a two-legged friend and the regular visits have proven to significantly lift their spirits, encouraging them to walk, talk, laugh and reminisce about their own animals. 

Working relationships with the British Red Cross, Age UK and neighbouring councils have resulted in new visits. Referrals come from Northumbria Healthcare NHS, Social Services, Occupational Services and GP practices. Northumbria Healthcare call WAGS their ‘Doggies on prescription’ service with doggie visitors planned in hospitals.  

Her Grace, The Duchess of Northumberland and Lord Lieutenant of Northumberland said: 
“The work of the volunteers within these three charities has made a significant and valuable difference to the lives of others.  
The Queen’s Award gives national recognition to extraordinary acts of voluntary service and is only given out in exceptional circumstances. 
These volunteers are extremely passionate about what they do, and their hard work and dedication is an inspiration to us all.  These commendations are so very well deserved and as Patron of Wag & Company, I am especially pleased to see them gain the recognition they so rightfully warrant.” 
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