The dedication of more than 150 volunteers in Wolverhampton has been recognised after the organisations they represent were each given the prestigious Queen's Award for Voluntary Service.

They include volunteers from Wolverhampton and Bilston Athletics Club, the Good Shepherd Ministry and Aspiring Futures - all of whom have helped transformed the lives of people who use the services they support.

The Queen's Award for Voluntary Service is the highest award given to volunteer groups across the UK, presented for outstanding achievement by people who regularly volunteer their own time to enhance and improve the lives of others.

Among the recipients were the 50 volunteers who support Wolverhampton and Bilston Athletics Club, based at WV Active Aldersley.

Colin Thompson, chairman of Wolverhampton and Bilston Athletics Club, said: "We are very proud to have even been considered for this award, which is recognition of the hard work of our volunteers.

"They are our lifeblood, giving their time and energy without a second thought, and we couldn't run the club without them."

The club was formed by the merger of the 2 Wolverhampton and Bilston athletics clubs in 1967, and continues to go from strength to strength with more than 1,000 members of all ages and abilities.

Colin started volunteering shortly after joining the club in 1999 to improve his fitness levels and said: "Volunteering is a tremendously rewarding thing to do, and there are so many different roles they can play at Wolverhampton and Bilston Athletics Club, not just as coaches.

"People don't need to have a sporting background; we always need timekeepers, people to measure throws and jumps and carry out the many administrative tasks without which the club just wouldn't be able to function."

Also receiving the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service was the Good Shepherd Ministry, which provides a vital foodbank and food distribution service to needy individuals and families in the city.

The Good Shepherd Ministry, based on Darlington Street, helps on average more than 250 people, individuals and families, every day of the year, and Brother Stephen Brennan said: "It is wonderful to see that what our many volunteers do for the poor and needy in our city has been recognised in this way.

"We currently have around 75 volunteers who are involved at all levels of the organisation, from sitting on the board to preparing hot meals and sandwiches and acting as delivery drivers. They are so important to us, and we are very thankful to them for all they do.

"It's the nature of most human beings to do good things in their lives, and volunteering gives people real purpose. We have volunteers from all walks of life, from people in full time employment who spare a few hours at the weekend to retired people who are able to support us during the week.

"We are also very grateful to local businesses who provide teams of staff to volunteer for us from time to time, including Tarmac, Carillion, Lloyds Bank, the Co-Op and the City of Wolverhampton Council. This award is for all of them."

The third Queen's Award goes to Aspiring Futures, the Wolverhampton based organisation which supports women from diverse backgrounds, enhancing their quality of life, improving career prospects and enabling them to enjoy better health and wellbeing through one-to-one counselling, keep fit and learning opportunities.

It has around 25 volunteers and has helped thousands of local women over the last 5 years. Development Officer Maliha Fazal, who started her career with Aspiring Futures as a volunteer, said: "We have volunteers of all ages and from all backgrounds, and we are so grateful for the support they give us and our service users.

"The good thing about Aspiring Futures is that there are so many opportunities for our volunteers, from supporting English language classes to helping out with fitness sessions, beauty training and more.

"As well as helping our service users, they are helping themselves too, by developing their job skills and employability - in fact many of our volunteers have gone on to get paid work, either with Aspiring Futures or elsewhere, which is great for them."

The Queen's Award for Voluntary Service is the equivalent to an MBE for the organisation which receives it. The announcements were made alongside the Birthday Honours list.

The recipients have been invited to a reception with the Mayor of Wolverhampton Councillor Barry Findlay on Monday (6 June), during this year's Volunteers Week (1 to 13 June), and will formally receive their awards in the near future.

Councillor John Reynolds, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for City Economy, said: "Nationally around 1 in 3 people volunteer at least once a year, making a huge contribution to our country and its economy.

"We have thousands of fantastic volunteers in Wolverhampton, who are giving up their valuable time to support others through organisations and other services, many also supported by the council, which operate across the city. It is wonderful that so many of them have been given the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service."

The nominations were supported by Queen's Award for Voluntary Service Lieutenancy Assessment Assessor Sylvia Parkin MBE, from Tettenhall. She said: "I am delighted that these three very worthy groups of volunteers have been recognised in this way. It is impossible to overestimate the impact their organisations have on the people of Wolverhampton, and the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service highlights their commitment to the city and its residents."

Any group of 2 or more people doing volunteering work can be nominated for the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service, with nominations welcomed from people who have benefited from their work, members of the public, representatives of public bodies or other voluntary groups. For more details, please visit Type=links;Linkid=7235;Title=The West Midlands Lieutenancy;Target=_blank; or Type=links;Linkid=7236;Title=GOV.UK;Target=_blank;.

For more information about Wolverhampton and Bilston Athletics Club, please call 07758 893169 or visit Type=links;Linkid=6525;Title=Wolverhampton and Bilston Athletics Club;Target=_blank;. For information about the Good Shepherd Ministry, please visit Type=links;Linkid=7238;Title=Good Shepherd Ministry;Target=_blank;, and to find out more about the work of Aspiring Futures, please visit Type=links;Linkid=7239;Title=Aspiring Futures;Target=_blank;. For details of Volunteers Week, please visit Type=links;Linkid=7240;Title=Volunteers Week;Target=_blank;.

  • released: Thursday 2 June, 2016