The Donkey Sanctuary’s Manchester centre has won the prestigious Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the highest award for volunteer groups in the UK.
Only a handful of groups are honoured with the award each year, which is equivalent to an MBE and which comes with an invitation to the Royal Garden Party.
The award recognises the achievements of community groups in encouraging people to play a more active role in society. Its announcement coincides with National Volunteer’s Week which runs from 1st June to 7th June 2014.
Volunteers are the backbone of The Donkey Sanctuary’s Manchester centre which provides donkey assisted therapy to children and adults with additional needs and which has established strong links with the community since the centre was created ten years ago.
The centre has provided volunteering opportunities and skills training to local people and acted as a hub for social interaction and personal development. It has engaged with an allotment group, a local monastery and many more societies over the years.
Centre manager, Debbie Coombes, said that without its 100 volunteers the centre would not be the same.
She said: “I am honoured to receive this prestigious award on behalf of the centre. It’s a credit to the overwhelming support we receive from our volunteers. It is the care, compassion and creativity of all the staff and volunteers who work together to make our centre such a special place.”
Debbie helped set up the centre ten years ago after having worked at the charity’s sanctuary in Leeds previously. She will be attending the Queen’s Garden Party at Buckingham Palace next month along with a centre supporter, Jan Meadowcroft, who made the nomination.
The prize also includes a certificate signed by the Queen and a domed glass crystal.
Debbie added: “It’s also brilliant that we’ve received this award in our tenth anniversary year. It couldn’t be better timing and I couldn’t be more proud.”
The centre provides donkey assisted therapy to over 200 children with additional needs from Manchester and the surrounding area each week. To meet the needs of our volunteers The Donkey Sanctuary plans to implement a new learning and development programme by 2015. For further information please telephone 0161 301 4051 or visit www.thedonkeysanctuary.org.uk/therapy/manchester