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Five borough charities receive top honour

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The Mayor of Dudley has hailed five borough charities who have today been announced as recipients of the highly prestigious Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.

The quintet, four based in Dudley and one in Stourbridge, are among 19 recipients of the award from across the West Midlands.

They are Discover U, Dudley Canal and Tunnel Trust, Dudley Voices for Choice, St John’s Church Preservation Group and Top Church Training: The Connect Project.

The charities have been recognised for their exceptional service within their communities and rely on volunteers to deliver their outstanding contribution.

Councillor David Stanley, the Mayor of Dudley, said:

It makes me very proud as first citizen that of the 19 charities to receive this prestigious award across the whole West Midlands region this year, more than a quarter are from our borough.
The five recipients are all very worthy and are making a real difference to people in our communities, giving their own time to help others.
I look forward to meeting them all when the situation improves to thank them in person.

Discover U, based in Wollaston, Stourbridge, provides skills to people with learning and physical difficulties to help them into employment and has a café on site open to the public.

Jen Bradley, general manager for Discover U, said:

As a relatively young charity, founded in August 2015, we are absolutely delighted and so proud that Discover U is in receipt of such as prestigious award.
It’s a wonderful acknowledgement of the amazing work our team of staff and volunteers do every day and the effort that has been put in over the last five years. It has shown that even in the most difficult of times when small groups and communities pull together they can achieve anything.
The award is particularly poignant for us following the recent passing of Lynn Brooks, co-founder and our much loved, longest serving volunteer, to whom we dedicate the award.

Dudley Canal and Tunnel Trust (DCTT) maintains and supports an internationally important heritage site, ensuring the canals and limestone mines remain at the heart of the community. Visitor numbers reached nearly 100,000 per year in 2018.

Becci Cooper-Sayer, volunteer co-ordinator for Dudley Canal & Tunnel Trust, said:

We were absolutely delighted to hear that the volunteers have won the Queens Award For Voluntary Service. I am so proud of our hardworking and dedicated team and believe that they truly deserve this award.
The volunteers have been an instrumental part of the organisation from the start. It was a group of local young adults who formed the charity 60 years ago with the aim of protecting the Dudley Canal Tunnel.
It's great that volunteers are still a key part of what we do today and fantastic that their hard work and dedication has been recognised in such a prestigious way.

Dudley Voices For Choice gives people with learning disabilities and autism a voice on how life experiences can be improved. The charity supported nearly 700 people last year.

Sarah Offley, chief officer for Dudley Voices for Choice, said:

We are honoured to be recognised for this prestigious award.
As a charity we strive to make our communities a great place to live in.
We have the pleasure of doing this everyday with our volunteer self-advocates, who share their personal experiences making sure that people with a learning disability and people with autism have their voices heard.

St John’s Church Preservation Group is a team of volunteers which battled successfully to protect and preserve the historic church in Kates Hill, as well as putting on scores of community events.

Deb Brownlee, chair of the trustees for St John's Church Preservation Group, said:

The volunteer team here are very hard working and most of the time it is unseen work.
So it came as quite a surprise to know that their work was in fact recognised, and to be nominated for this great honour.
Our motto for the volunteers is 'proud to volunteer' and now we are even more so.

Top Church Training: The Connect Project, based in Brierley Hill, helped more than 600 people under the age of 35 find employment last year.

Karen Fielder, head of operations for The Connect Project, said:

The Connect Project/ Top Church Training are very honoured to have won The Queen's Award for Voluntary Service.
We are delighted that the work that we do has been recognised and we would like to pay tribute to all our volunteers for their hard work and commitment to the charity.

The Lord-Lieutenant of the West Midlands, John Crabtree OBE said:

Through the activities of the West Midlands Lieutenancy, I come across many people providing amazing support and giving their time to help others.
It is heart-warming to see so many of these organisations gain the recognition they deserve. I am so grateful for everything they do and am thrilled that we can praise their efforts through the QAVS Honour.

Any group of two or more people that has participated in voluntary work for three years can be put forward.

Details on how to nominate for 2021 can be found at https://www.mayorofdudley.org.uk/queens-honours

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