The award is the equivalent of an MBE
A local charity received the most prestigious and highest honour available to volunteer groups at a special presentation recently.
Ayrshire Cancer Support (ACS) was given the Queen’s Award For Voluntary Service (QAVS) by the Lord Lieutenant Of Ayrshire and Arran, Iona McDonald.
The award is the equivalent of an MBE and it was particularly fitting this honour was bestowed in the year the charity celebrates its 40th birthday.
Many civic dignitaries joined volunteers in the ACS Drop-In Centre in Kilmarnock to witness the Lord Lieutenant present the award.
Iona McDonald said : “I am here today to present Ayrshire Cancer Support with a QAVS. It is a QAVS because it was awarded during the reign of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth. From now on it will be known as the KAVS.
“This is a prestigious award. It is the equivalent of an MBE for charitable organisations.”
Highlighting the work carried out by ACS, which was founded in 1982, she added: “Ayrshire Cancer Support provides emotional support and practical help to those who are affected by cancer. You seek to improve the quality of life of those living with cancer and ensure that help is readily available with various services such as hospital transport and counselling.
“The service is for anyone living in Ayrshire diagnosed with cancer along with their loved ones such as family, friends and children.
“Ayrshire Cancer Support has over 240 volunteers. The main areas of help are at the drop-in centre, shop and hospital transport services.
“At the time of the nomination there had been 11,279 journeys made in the preceding 12 months by these drivers, which is staggering with the difficulties faced by the pandemic.
“Due to covid restrictions drivers had to be limited to one patient per vehicle and these drivers wait on the patients during their appointment and return them home safely. This service is invaluable to patients and their loved ones offering peace of mind.”
Chief executive of Ayrshire Cancer Support, Sandra McCall, said it was a great honour for everyone connected with the charity and in particular the volunteers.
She added: “It is only right that this accolade should be dedicated to our hundreds of volunteers - without whom none of what we do would be possible. This is a springboard for everything that comes next.”
Alan Tattersfield is a volunteer for the charity and mainly works at the drop-in centre and also drives patients to the Beatson and helps with events.
He was one of the volunteers who received the award on behalf of the charity and he said: ”ACS has helped those with cancer for more than 40 years. Not just those with a cancer diagnosis, but friends and families. The Queen’s Award is a massive way of saying thank you to the staff and volunteers. I think it is well deserved for countless people over the years.”
Also among the many volunteers present at the presentation was Yvonne Morrison from Maybole who has been driving for the charity since 1982 and was awarded with a British Empire Medal in 2016 after being nominated by grateful patients.
Yvonne Morrison was in her early 20s when she first started volunteering and now 40 years later she can lay claim to the amazing achievement of having driven the equivalent distance of to the moon and back.
Yvonne says the 40 years have just flown past and she has enjoyed every minute having made some amazing friends on what she calls her ‘journey’.
She has helped numerous people through difficult times and cites one case of a young man who was alone and scared and as he fought his illness he hit hardship as he was unable to work. Yvonne reassured him and put him on the right path for benefits and other help.
Coming next for ACS is a new centre in Prestwick Road, Ayr which will extend the vital services the charity offers to local people living with, or affected by, cancer.
The Ayr Centre will house the region's only dedicated complete support facility for children and young people affected by cancer.
The £2.4 million project is already well under way and additional funding and room sponsorships have recently been secured with approximately 68% of the target achieved to date.
To support the Make it Happen appeal, visit https://home4cancer.org/