HOSPISCARE volunteers have won the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service.
The Royal honour - the highest award of its kind for volunteers in this country - pays tribute to nearly 1,000 dedicated supporters who between them donate £1million worth of time each year to support the local charity.
The Award, which is the MBE for volunteer groups, will be presented at a special ceremony in Exeter on June 17th by the Lord Lieutenant Mr Eric Dancer along with former broadcaster Martyn Lewis CBE.
As an additional celebration, a group of Hospiscare volunteers have also been invited to a Royal garden party in the summer.
The Queen's Award pays tribute to nearly three decades of work by Hospiscare to help local families throughout Exeter, mid and East Devon.
Volunteers of all ages have played a vital role from the very beginning.
Hospiscare was launched in 1982 and their work now ranges from fundraising and helping to run the charity's 17 shops to supporting patients at home, bereavement care, running errands and manning reception and the coffee bar at the charity's Exeter centre.
There are also volunteer gardeners who create a tranquil space for patients to relax and complementary therapists who help to relieve patient symptoms and to promote well-being.
Hospiscare's chief executive Glynis Atherton said she was thrilled at the Award which celebrated not just the generosity but the enthusiasm and professionalism of the charity's vital supporters. She said: "Our volunteers make an amazing difference to every aspect of Hospiscare's work and we could not provide such special care for local patients and their families without them."
Former BBC journalist Martyn Lewis, who is the committee chair for the Award added: "Volunteer groups make such an important contribution to their communities, often without praise for the incredible job they do. In these difficult times their efforts are even more valuable.
"It's a pleasure to celebrate the achievements of Hospiscare volunteers with The Queen's Award for Voluntary Service and give official recognition for the benefits they bring to others' lives."
The Award comes just after Hospiscare was featured in a national television campaign to promote volunteering across the country. TV's Dr Hilary Jones worked as a volunteer for a day with the Exeter charity in May and a film of his visit was broadcast as part of ITV Daybreak's Donate A Day campaign appealing to people to step up for their local community.
Hospiscare spokeswoman Teresa Driscoll said: "For our charity this really has been the year of the volunteer. Their effort has always been highly valued within the charity and it is wonderful now for their work to be recognised for all to see."