In addition to the Queens Award for Voluntary Service for groups of volunteers, you can nominate an incredible volunteer for an Individual Honour. You can’t choose which honour they will receive, a distinguished panel will do that, but it’s most certainly worth the effort as you will see from Julie Duffy’s experience!
Julie Duffy BEM
My eldest daughter came into the kitchen carrying a letter and said “Mum, you have a letter, think you have Jury Service”. I asked her to open it for me as I was cooking dinner
She opened the letter and said “Oh my goodness mom you need to come and sit down. You have been awarded a British Empire Medal!” She called my other daughter downstairs and we were all crying. I had to keep re-reading the letter as it would not sink in.
The letter instructed that I could not tell anyone until the announcement apart from close family, so I didn’t tell anyone at work. When I went for a family meal at Christmas, I gave the letter to my cousin to read out to the others at the table. She had to keep stopping as she was crying. My uncle told me how proud my Mum and auntie would have been.
I still didn’t say anything when I went into work at the What? Centre and had no idea who had nominated me for the Award. Then my colleague Amanda said “we all know”!
I was invited to a garden party in the May and my presentation took place in the Mayor’s Parlour with the Lord Lieutenant and the Mayor.
How did it make you feel to receive this Award?
I felt really proud. I work for the What? Centre as a full time job but over 40 years I’ve done lots of voluntary work under the radar. When I was 18 I did some fundraising for Shelter and later I also helped Dudley HIV & Aids Support group [now Summit House Support] to get some of their first funding. My volunteering relationship with Summit House continued for some years and in addition to delivering therapy and support for clients, I was also the Chair and Vice-Chair for some time and helped the project to grow at that stage through the project being housed in the What? Centre for a few years. It is now and has been for many years a thriving project.
I volunteered on the Board at the Robin Wood Centre in Stourbridge, a community project supporting people of all ages.
I also volunteered as a Governor at Belle Vue School for almost 13 years and at the same time I was also a governor at Fairhaven School.
I was also a Governor at Stourbridge College for many years and chaired their Standards Committee.
I am also currently on the Board of Governors of Dudley & Walsall Mental Health Trust as an elected public Governor.
The only time I haven’t volunteered since I was 18 was for 4 years whilst doing my MBA.
“This Award has made me feel so proud. It’s a quiet recognition and looking at the paperwork, or the medal, gives me a boost. No-one does voluntary work to get a recognition, they do it because they care and they have a social conscience however the award continues to bring a smile to my face and I will never forget the joy it brought to me.”
Over to you!
I’m sure that as you have been reading this article, you’ve started thinking about a group of volunteers you know. Are they amazing, committed, passionate people, just like the Foodbank team? Bet they are! Why not get in touch with Eileen from the Volunteer Centre and she can signpost you to information about how to nominate and give you hints/tips on the process.