Shropshire Star

Selfless volunteers in royal recognition

Volunteers at four county charities have been recognised by the Queen for their selfless efforts to help others.

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The East Shropshire Talking Newspaper has received a Queen's Award for Voluntary Service.

In a series of national Queen's Awards for Voluntary Service – announced at the start of a four day Platinum Jubilee celebration – the four Shropshire organisations have been commended for their work.

They include West Mercia Search and Rescue, East Shropshire Talking Newspaper, Shropshire Rural Support, and Parents Opening Doors.

The talking newspaper, based in Ketley, Telford, provides vital local news for blind and visually impaired people.

Its volunteers send out memory sticks once a week containing a 90-minute recording that includes news stories, features, and sports reports.

Around 150 people a week receive the recordings.

Set up 32 years ago, the organisation has gone from sending out recordings on cassette tapes to using USB sticks.

The group's chairman, Robert Green, who has been part of the organisation since it was set up in 1990, said the award was a wonderful honour for those who volunteer.

He said: "We have been going for 32 years now and over the years we have attracted new listeners, lost listeners, but we have maintained a fairly constant number and the listeners seem to look on us as a family unit.

"It is something for them to look forward to each week when they get the memory stick. This is what we have thought and we must be doing something good to last for 32 years."

He added: "We were amazed to find out we had received the award. We are proud of what we do and it is a good thing to be involved in such charities and to help people who are less fortunate."

The group has up to 40 volunteers involved in the production each week – preparing around 50 items for each recording.

Mr Green, 79, from Wellington, said that the award was wonderful and deserved recognition for the organisation's volunteers.

West Mercia Search and Rescue is made up of 80 volunteers who are ready to be called out by the police or the fire service at a moment's notice to help search for missing people – or to rescue those stranded in flooding, rivers, or other dangerous situations.

The group, which is based in Bridgnorth, works across Shropshire, Worcestershire and Herefordshire, with members giving up their time to save the lives of others.

The group, which was set up in 2007, has been involved in a number of major incidents – as well as scores of situations where people are missing or in danger.

In 2012 its members helped with the high-profile hunt for missing Machynlleth youngster April Jones, as well as the search for Telford's Georgia Williams the following year.

The group's members were also involved in the search for Shrewsbury's Nathan Fleetwood, after he went missing in March.

Chairman of the group's trustees, Andy MacAuley, said: “Every member of the charity has sacrificed a significant amount of their time and money to help others in the community, and this award from Her Majesty is a humbling recognition of those efforts.

"Much of our work is unseen, due to the nature of those we help, but we thank the public for their recent outpouring of support following tragic events in Shrewsbury, when the team has been in a spotlight. We could not have trained, equipped and maintained our volunteers without that support.”

West Mercia's Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion said the recognition was thoroughly deserved.

He said: “The volunteers do an outstanding job, protecting the most vulnerable and providing a professional service across our communities. They have positive relationship with the police service and help to reduce the workload of officers. I’d like to thank them on behalf of the public for everything they do, and recommend their recognition with a Queen’s Award.”

Shropshire Rural Support, is a charity that provides a free confidential service for farmers and rural people – particularly those facing periods of anxiety or stress.

The charity was originally set up to help reduce the number of suicides in rural communities.

It is managed by a committee of trustees – all volunteers from the farming community who work unpaid.

Chairman Andrew Bebb, said the award was wonderful recognition for those who give up their time for the charity.

He said: “We were delighted to have been nominated for this award, and absolutely over the moon to have won the Queens' Award for Voluntary Services.

"Congratulations and a big thank you must go to our trustees and volunteers, past and present, as this award is recognition for their hard work in helping to build the reputation of Shropshire Rural Support.

“We would not be in existence today without the inspiration of Clifford Evans MBE, that work being carried on more recently by Brenda Sturrock, whose determination kept us going through some lean years.

“We have been operating for 15 years under the Shropshire Rural Support banner, but the roots of our charity go back to 1991.

"Set up originally to reduce the incidence of suicide, we cover a whole plethora of problems involving mental health, brought on in the main by stress and anxiety which often lead to depression.

"Family bereavement, succession issues, substance abuse, domestic violence, financial concerns animal and human welfare. The award will raise our profile, enabling us to reach even more vulnerable people.

“We are indebted to the organisations, trusts, YFCs, NFU offices and many individuals, who continue to support our charity, without whom we could not continue to provide our service. They have all generously contributed voluntary donations, and our award must be shared with them all.”

Parents Opening Doors is based at Hazeldene House in Central Square, Telford. It helps parent carers who have a child or young person from birth to 25-years-old, with a disability or additional need of any kind.

It offers to help people have their voices heard and aims to "make a difference".

The charity works across a whole range of services including health, education, social care, and alongside voluntary sector partners both at a local level as well as regional and national level.

It is also a member of the National Network of Parent Carer Forum.

PODS has links with Sure Start, Parent Partnership Service, now IASS, DCD Group and the Child Development Centre.

The charity focuses on helping parents and carers get their views across to service providers across all areas.

It also supports people with training to meet their needs and to build skills and confidence.

PODS also carries out an annual survey to help the ongoing development of the charity and to ensure it continues to meet people's needs.

It shares information to help develop services and seeks funding to ensure future sustainability of the forum.

A Befriender Scheme enables people to access emotional support and the charity also provides activities, well-being calls and family group sessions.

Useful information is also provided through e-bulletins and fundraising activities also take place.

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