A voluntary group from Mid Sussex which works in the community to help people who suffer from the chronic illness, ME, has been honoured with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK.
reMEmber was formed in 1999 by Janice Kent, herself an ME sufferer, because at that time there was very little provision for people with this illness, and certainly nothing south of London. The charity gives information and advice, arranges consultations by expert doctors, holds social and fund-raising events, campaigns for better services, arranges talks by experts, supports research, provides self-management courses and produces a quarterly newsletter - all for the benefit of patients and carers in Sussex and beyond.
Janice and Bill Kent from reMEmber attended a garden party at Buckingham Palace on 20 May where they met the Queen and other winners of this year’s award. reMEmber is one of 187 charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups to receive the prestigious award this year. The number of awards handed out to groups have increased by over 60% from 2014, due to an increase in high quality applications, showing that the voluntary sector is thriving and full of innovative ideas to tackle community challenges.
The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service is the highest award given to local volunteer groups across the UK to recognise outstanding work in their communities. 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 Ablaze, a charity helping to raise academic achievement amongst disadvantaged young people in Bristol to a volunteer rescue boat service on Loch Lomond. reMEmber will receive the award from the Lord Lieutenant of West Sussex later this summer.
The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service Committee Chair, former broadcast journalist Martyn Lewis CBE 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 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 hard work and commitment that goes into the work of these organisations 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 bigger, stronger society.”
Janice Kent says “We at reMEmber are thrilled to receive this award. ME is a long-term, disabling condition which means that many with the illness are unable to take an active role in our organisation. Nevertheless our small, but very dedicated band of volunteers – all ME sufferers or carers – have worked tremendously to help others over the last sixteen years, and the Queen’s Award is recognition of their achievement. My heartfelt thanks to them. My gratitude also goes to other people who have supported our cause including our Patron, Sir Nicholas Soames MP, and Councillor Peter Griffiths. But we need more volunteers to keep our charity running. I will be delighted to hear from people who can spare a little time to help, particularly with fund-raising events and publicity. My contact details are below.
“Our volunteers were on duty at our ME Awareness Conference in Burgess Hill on Saturday 30 May where experts, including Dr Charles Shepherd of the ME Association, spoke on provision for severely ill patients, diet and irritable bowel syndrome, and the latest developments in research. Our next fund raising event will be a sponsored walk from Clayton Windmills to Ditchling Beacon and back on Sunday 28 June. Please join us in this fun event. Contact me at 01273 831733, e-mail me_cfs@ hotmail.com or visit www.remembercfs.org.uk.”
Report contributed by reMEmber.