Volunteer 4The Orpheus Centre in Godstone, a specialist college for young disabled adults, has been honoured with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK.

Orpheus offers a full and varied curriculum that gives young disabled adults the practical skills they need to live independently when they leave. It was set up by Sir Richard Stilgoe in 1998 and specialises in the performing arts.

Sue Mitchell, Volunteer Co-ordinator and long-standing volunteer Steven Beal attended a garden party given by the Queen at Buckingham Palace on 24 June to celebrate other winners of this year’s award.

The Orpheus Centre is one of 193 charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups to receive the prestigious award in 2016. The number of awards given to groups this year is slightly higher than last year, showing that the voluntary sector is thriving and full of innovative ideas to tackle community challenges. Additionally, Orpheus is one of just six charities in Surrey to have been successful in receiving the award.

The awards were created in 2002 to celebrate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee and winners are announced each year on 2 June – the anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation.

Award winners this year range from a War Memorial Community Trust, providing social facilities for the benefit of the community in Clwyd, Wales, to a club in Ayrshire and Arran, Scotland, who enhance the community by developing individuals through athletics.

The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service Committee Chair, former broadcast journalist Sir Martyn Lewis said:

“I warmly congratulate all of the inspirational voluntary groups who have been rewarded for their community work with a Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. The judging panel for this year’s awards were struck by the quality and breadth of all the successful groups. The thousands of volunteers who give up spare time to help others in their community and to help solve problems demonstrate the very best of democracy in action.”

Minister for Civil Society, Rob Wilson, said:

“I would like to congratulate all groups who received this year’s Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, in recognition of their fantastic achievements. The huge amount of work and commitment these organisations put into their local communities is surpassed only by the passion and motivation of the individuals who volunteer. I hope these groups continue to inspire others to get involved and make a positive impact so that we can continue to build a more compassionate society.”

Graham Whitehead, Chief Executive of The Orpheus Centre said:

“I am enormously proud of the Orpheus Centre volunteers’ achievement in being awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service – the MBE for charities. It reflects the outstanding contribution made by hundreds of volunteers since we began in 1998. Their ‘gift of time’ represents so much for our young disabled students, as they strive to become as independent as possible. Every volunteer brings something unique and special to impact on the lives of our students and staff and with their involvement Orpheus becomes a much richer and dynamic learning environment”

 Surrey resident, Adrienne Bloch added:

“It’s fantastic news that Orpheus has been recognised for the incredibly competitive Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. Winning is absolute testament to the dedication and benefits of volunteering in this exceptional community. I nominated the Orpheus volunteers as they continuously put time and effort into transforming and unlocking individual’s potential through access to the performing arts and developing life skills.”