Queen’s award for Leuchie’s volunteers

Leuchie House volunteers recognised with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service 2016

The team of volunteers at national respite centre Leuchie House in East Lothian has been honoured with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK.

The Award recognises Leuchie volunteers’ ‘outstanding work in the community’, supporting the centre to provide short respite breaks to people living with long term health conditions such as multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s.

Over the past five years, the team, known as Friends of Leuchie, has provided invaluable support across all areas of the North Berwick centre’s operation. It is estimated that the work the volunteers do saves Leuchie around £2,000 each month.

Mairi O’Keefe, Leuchie’s Chief Executive, said: ‘Quite simply, Leuchie House couldn’t survive without the support of our team of volunteers. Leuchie had to be set up very quickly as an independent charity in 2011 with no reserves to draw upon. The service we provide is by its nature resource-intensive and budgets are severely limited. Thanks to the work our volunteers do, not only has Leuchie survived against the odds, we’ve been able to develop into a national centre for excellence in respite care.

“The volunteer team are involved in virtually every aspect of what goes on at Leuchie. They assist guests at meal times, provide practical assistance in physiotherapy, accompany guests on trips, provide emotional support to guests and their carers, help with administration, take part in fundraising, sit on our board of trustees, and much more.”

The team of around 80 volunteers range in age from 16 to over 70 and come from a wide range of different backgrounds.

Alison Cobb who has provided both administrative support, and meal assistance to guests at Leuchie for the past three years as a volunteer explained why the award means so much to the team. “It was wonderful to hear about the award and I’m sure all Leuchie’s volunteers will be delighted. The award acknowledges what I’ve always felt about volunteering at Leuchie House. The whole team – volunteers and staff - are so great to work with and so committed to the guests, that together they make Leuchie an uplifting place that offers something very special.”

Melissa Bradley, another one of the team, represented Leuchie’s volunteers at a garden party at Buckingham Palace on 21 May where she met the Queen and other winners of this year’s 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.  Leuchie’s volunteer team is one of 193 charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups to receive the prestigious award this year.

The Friends of Leuchie will receive their award from the Lord Lieutenant of East Lothian later this summer.

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.”