Royal recognition for community groups in Holt, Wells and Wisbech after volunteers scoop prestigious award
- Credit: Archant
A trio of voluntary groups from across the region have been hailed as outstanding after receiving a royal honour for their contribution to their local communities.
The Holt Youth Project in north Norfolk, the Heritage House Day Care Centre in Wells and the Rosmini Centre in Wisbech have been handed a Queen's Award for Voluntary Services - the group equivalent of an MBE.
The trio were among 117 groups nationwide to receive the honour after more than 200 were nominated for the prestigious title.
The Holt Youth Project has been credited as filling a 'void' in the town since it opened in 2004.
Operating from its base in Old Station Way it runs a social hub, a gym, young carers' groups and parent and toddler sessions, supporting teenagers who have a 'wide spectrum of social problems' including autism or Asperger's or Neets – young people between 16 and 19 who are not in education, employment or training.
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North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb and BBC Look East presenter Carol Bundock nominated the project for a Queen's award.
Julie Alford, who grew up in Holt and established the group, said: 'We didn't in a million years think we would get it. It is lovely because it is for everyone who volunteers and supports the project.
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'I feel over the moon and privileged. We just get on with our work and to get an award for it is amazing. We cannot go any further than the Queen's Award – that is the highest recognition for any group.'
The Heritage House Day Care Centre, a former nurses' home, received the award in recognition of its small army of volunteers who give up their time to serve the needs of the elderly and frail in and around Wells.
Day care co-ordinator Mary Britton said the volunteers ranged in age from 19 to 84 and people came to the centre from as far as Hunstanton and Holt, Fakenham and the Creakes, with the centre able to take 26 people a day, on a maximum four days a week.
She added: 'We could not run without our volunteers and we are always looking for new ones. They put themselves out for us in a big way - they are a lifeline.'
Visitors receive a home cooked two-course meal, prepared on site, and are encouraged to take part in the activities that take place during the day, from games and quizzes to singing, painting and, if the weather is nice, time in the garden or the occasional trip out.
Volunteers at Wisbech's Rosmini Centre, which provides a vital integration service between incoming migrant families and the local community, were delighted with their award.
Centre manager Anita Grodkiewicz said: 'It's great, I think it really recognises all the hard work of all the volunteers who have put so much into the centre. The accolade of winning it is nice and it's nice for the volunteers.
'It's a community and social centre. People can come and have fun as well as receive support and it's an opportunity for everyone to integrate with each other.
'It doesn't matter what your nationality is, anyone can make use of our services.'
The centre runs activities and classes for all age groups with the aim of helping both new and established families settle in the area.
Guidance and support is also provided in a number of languages to help migrant newcomers with things such as tax returns and medical appointments.
Set up in 2007 the charity now has more than 120 volunteers and has been working from the Queen's Road centre since 2009.
All three groups will be presented with their award - a certificate signed by the Queen and a domed glass crystal - by Lord Lieutenant of Norfolk Richard Jewson.