VOLUNTEERS working for Aberdeen-based children’s charity AberNecessities have received The King’s Award for Voluntary Service for its work in supporting children living in poverty in the city and shire.
The King’s Award for Voluntary Service is the highest award a local voluntary group can receive in the UK and is equivalent to an MBE. This year is the first time the awards are offered by His Majesty King Charles III. More than 100 volunteers at AberNecessities have been awarded the honour thanks to their work sorting and preparing emergency packs of basic essentials which are delivered by volunteer drivers directly to families. The basic items provided by AberNecessities from its premises in Dyce, Aberdeen include formula milk, nappies, toiletries, clothing, beds, and equipment.
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AberNecessities is one of 262 local charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups to receive the prestigious award this year. The King’s Award for Voluntary Service aims to recognise outstanding work by local volunteer groups to benefit their communities. It was created in 2002 to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee and, following his accession, His Majesty The King emphasised his desire to continue the Award. Recipients are announced annually on 14th November, The King’s Birthday.
Six representatives of AberNecessities will receive the award crystal and certificate from Sandy Manson, Lord-Lieutenant of Aberdeenshire later this year. In addition, two representatives from AberNecessities will attend a garden party at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in July 2024.
Danielle Flecher-Horn, founder of AberNecessities, said: “We are thrilled that our volunteers have been recognised by His Majesty The King for their vital work in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire. Every day, men and women from across the north-east join us to ensure no child should go without. From lovingly packing gifts for a new mum, to delivering a cot to ensure a baby has a safe place to sleep, our volunteers work tirelessly alongside staff to provide items in a timely way which families with the support of professionals have requested.
“Our volunteers’ dedication is unwavering and without their time and effort we wouldn’t be able to provide the same standard of service. Paying attention to every gift that is given and choosing items which are as individual as the child receiving them. They all pour their heart and soul into our operation with the same goal which is to bring a smile to children and relief to parents to support family moments and create a childhood of memories. Each item we gift is so much more than an item and I often have volunteers ask questions like ‘should I pop welly boots in with this one? He might like to jump in puddles with all this rain we have had.’ These moments are tribute to the thought and empathic nature of our team.
“The timing of the award couldn’t have been better, as the volunteers get our grotto ready for Christmas deliveries. In 2022, we distributed 2,704 Christmas Eve boxes and gifts to local children who were at risk of not having a story to tell at school after the holidays. We know from feedback that the Christmas Eve boxes along with the new gifts we were able to supply a memorable Christmas. Last Christmas saw unprecedented demand, yet our volunteers never slowed down and through blood, sweat and tears ensured that the special and unmovable deadline was met.
“Our team are regularly faced with harrowing stories and situations. Some of which are hard to comprehend however, this never deters them from turning up. In fact, I’m so proud to say, it ignites their compassion even more. With many weekends and evenings being committed especially over busier periods it’s always an amazing atmosphere full of kindness.
“With one in five children in our area living in poverty, the demand for the services provided by AberNecessities has never been greater, and none of this would be possible without the hard work and commitment of our volunteers. I congratulate, and from the bottom of my heart, thank them all.”