Surrey Care Trust’s Swingbridge community boat volunteers have been awarded the prestigious Queen’s Award for Voluntary Services, the MBE for volunteer groups.
The award was received for the services our volunteers provide to support, mentor and upskill disadvantaged and vulnerable people, including offenders, through environmental work and training trips, as well as for running trips that make the River Wey accessible to people with limited mobility and special needs.
The Swingbridge community boat programme is run by local charity Surrey Care Trust, which helps people of all ages to improve their life chances and overcome the disadvantage of low skills, financial hardship and social isolation. Fifty-five active volunteers, aged 35-80, crew, skipper and maintain Swingbridge1 (our trips and training boat) and Swingbridge2 (our enviroboat) which operate along local waterways.
Last year our volunteers enabled 986 people to enjoy summer boat trips or complete boating skills courses on Swingbridge1, while over 100 offenders and vulnerable adults benefited from volunteer support on Swingbridge2, while they carried out work to improve the waterways environment for public benefit.
Chair of the Swingbridge Steering Group and Swingbridge1 volunteer, David Aldous said: “It is an honour to be recognised by Her Majesty the Queen for the support provided to disadvantaged and vulnerable people within the community by Swingbridge volunteers. This award highlights the dedication of everyone involved in the programme who, in many cases, has worked tirelessly to improve local people’s lives for many years.”
Tom*, an offender currently carrying out his community service on Swingbridge2, said of the volunter support provided to him: “The volunteers don’t judge you or ask you questions – they just see you as one of the team – but they will listen to you if you want to talk about something that’s on your mind. I’ve got such a lot of satisfaction out of seeing the improvements I have made to the river bank that I would like to join the team as a volunteer myself in the future.”
The Queen’s Awards for Voluntary Service are made annually by Her Majesty The Queen, and are only given for the highest levels of excellence demonstrated in each category. They are the highest award given to volunteer groups across the UK and recognise the outstanding contributions made by voluntary organisations devoting their time for the benefit of others in their communities.
*name has been changed