THE coveted "MBE for charities" award was bestowed upon crucial Wee County volunteers last week.

Representatives from Home-Start Clackmannanshire were presented with their Queen's Award for Voluntary Service (QAVS), the highest honour available in the third sector.

A dozen volunteers and representatives gathered at Arndean on Wednesday, September 7, with the award being presented by Clackmannanshire's Lord Lieutenant Johnny Stewart.

Following the ceremony, Johnny Stewart said: “I was delighted to welcome 12 members of Home-Start Clackmannanshire to my home to present them with the Queens Award for Voluntary Service.

“This is the highest honour available to the voluntary sector and it is a great achievement.

“Home-start Clackmannanshire provides an absolutely essential service for families, many of them single parent, who are struggling to cope.

“The work done by the volunteers of the group is of the highest quality and this is recognised by its umbrella organisation Home-start UK, Clackmannanshire Council and most importantly by its client families as, literally, life changing and indeed lifesaving.

“The pandemic has of course been challenging for everyone but it was vital that despite not being allowed to meet up with families the work of the volunteers was able to continue.

“The group found many innovative ways to do this and made lockdown much more bearable for the families.

“This good news is wonderful in these very difficult times. I send them my congratulations.”

Based at The Whins and also operating a shop on Alloa's High Street, the group of around 30 volunteers at Home-Start Clacks works with families across the county who have at least one child under 12 years of age and offer support, friendship and practical help to families in a unique, family-centred way.

The award was originally announced earlier in June, when CEO Shelley Bowman paid tribute to volunteers past and present.

At the time, she said: “Without their enthusiasm, dedication, and loyalty, Home-Start Clackmannanshire would not be the organisation it is today.

“The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service is the highlighted accolade a voluntary group can receive, and we are delighted that our volunteers are being recognised for their contribution to our charity.”

The group was established in 1988 and has grown hugely during the last five years to meet the increased demand from families around the area.

The core mantra is to help families achieve strong foundations for a healthy and happy future which is achieved through one-to-one support, weekly visits, cookery classes, annual outings, child minding and the provision of practical advice as part of an ever increasing range of services and support.