Volunteers at Keech Hospice Care in Luton are being honoured with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the highest accolade a voluntary group can receive in the UK.
The award recognises outstanding work by volunteer groups that benefits their communities.
Liz Searle, CEO of the hospice, said she’s delighted the charity’s volunteers and their dedication have been recognised. “Without our 1,475 volunteers, we simply wouldn’t be here. They’re the backbone of Keech Hospice Care and always go above and beyond. This award is a fantastic tribute to all their hard work and commitment, without which we would struggle to deliver services.
“From 13 years old to 90 years young, our wonderful volunteers fulfill 111 different roles and bring multiple skills which – as a charity – we simply could not afford” she added. “From ensuring our 34 shops can remain open and lifeguarding so patients can use our hydrotherapy pool to catering, fundraising, voice banking and bereavement – the list is endless. For nearly 30 years, our volunteers have made Keech Hospice Care what it is today. I’m delighted their continuous dedication is being recognised because it enables the charity to provide its exceptional specialist care to children and adults, and their families, at a time it’s needed the most.”
HM Lord-Lieutenant of Bedfordshire Helen Nellis delivered the news on social media, saying: “I am thrilled the volunteers of Keech Hospice Care have been awarded the prestigious Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. We are so fortunate in Bedfordshire to have this wonderful hospice providing free specialist care for adults and children with life-limiting illnesses, and the contribution from its volunteers is tremendous. I send my sincere congratulations to everyone at Keech Hospice Care and I look forward to the time when I can visit the hospice in person and present the award on behalf of HM The Queen.”
Louise Coleman became a volunteer after the hospice cared for her son. She said it’s all about giving back and feeling valued. “I’m delighted we’ve received this prestigious award, but I’ve got so much out of volunteering for Keech Hospice Care. I started as a fundraising volunteer after the charity cared for my son Sam – it was my way of giving back. The care Sam and the whole family received was just incredible. Sam died when he was just 19 years old from Duchenne muscular dystrophy and since then I’ve raised £34,000.
“You’re part of a fantastic family when you volunteer for Keech – it truly is a wonderful charity. There are many volunteering opportunities out there but, whatever time you can give, I’d encourage everyone to volunteer for Keech – it’s not a sad place at all. There really is a role to suit everyone, you feel so valued and you know you are making the difference when it matters the most.”
At 16 years old, Fabia Chowdhury is one of the hospice’s youngest volunteers. “To get this award is brilliant and a total surprise” she said. “I did work experience at one of Keech Hospice Care’s charity shops two years ago and I loved it so much, I’ve volunteered at the weekends ever since. I feel part of a family and the people I work with are amazing!
“People think volunteering is just for older people but it’s not. The skills I’m learning look great on my CV and will help me to get my first job in the future. I feel part of my community and I’m becoming more confident. If anyone is thinking about volunteering, I highly recommend it for all ages it as it’s really fun and no two days are ever the same.”
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic the awards won’t be celebrated this year; instead the volunteers will attend a garden party at Buckingham Palace next year on behalf of the charity, along with other recipients of this year’s Queen’s Award.
For more information visit Keech Hospice Care
Volunteers Week runs until June 6.