A voluntary group from Wirksworth, Derbyshire, which provides safe drinking water and humanitarian aid worldwide to those in need has been honoured with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service – the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK.
More than 70 volunteers from the local community attend the Aquabox depot each week to assemble the water filters or pack the boxes with humanitarian aid, ready for dispatch to countries suffering from the effects of disasters, whether natural or man-made.
Aquabox is managed and run by the Rotary Club of Wirksworth. In recognition of the award, chairman of trustees Mike Tomlinson and his wife Dianne, a fellow Aquabox volunteer, attended a garden party at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday 24 May 2016 hosted by the Queen, where they met with other winners of this year’s award.
Mr Tomlinson said: “Everybody connected with Aquabox is absolutely thrilled with this accolade, which recognises the hard work and dedication of all the volunteers who selflessly give up their time to ensure this vital aid goes to places where it’s needed most.
“Dianne and I were proud and humbled to enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to represent all of the volunteers at the Buckingham Palace garden party. It’s fantastic that Aquabox has been recognised in this way, and it was also an honour to meet with representatives of other important charities doing great work in the UK and overseas.”
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 thousands of volunteers who give up their spare time to help others in the community and to help solve problems demonstrate the very best of democracy in action.”
Since its formation in 1992, Aquabox has distributed more than 105,000 boxes to crisis zones across the world. It recently sent 4,500 boxes to Turkey and Lebanon to aid Syrian refugees, and shipped almost 2,000 boxes to earthquake-hit Nepal. The plastic boxes consist of a water-filtration unit, cooking utensils, hygiene equipment, tools, shelter materials, baby clothing and educational items.
The charity relies entirely on donations and fundraising to purchase the boxes and their contents.
Aquabox is one of the 193 charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups to receive the prestigious award this year. The number of awards given this year is slightly higher than last year, 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 with 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.
Aquabox will receive the award from William Tucker, the Lord Lieutenant of Derbyshire, later this summer.
For further information on Aquabox visit www.aquabox.org