A voluntary community group from Randalstown has been honoured with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in its 20th anniversary year.
Randalstown ARCHES Association, or ARCHES, was originally set up to develop and improve the town and its heritage by a steadfast group of volunteers in 1995, many of whom are still involved.
ARCHES continues to carry out this work today with the primary aim of improving the community by advancing community development, education and training, and providing social welfare facilities for local people.
ARCHES is one of only 15 groups in Northern Ireland to be given the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service (QAVS), which is the highest award for local volunteer groups across the UK to recognise outstanding work in their communities.
In the summer, ARCHES vice-chairman Frank Hurrell, and his wife Karen, had the chance to meet fellow QAVS winners when they attended a garden party at Buckingham Palace in the presence of the Queen and Prince Phillip.
ARCHES volunteers received a further invitation to a garden party at Hillsborough Castle earlier this month and this was attended by voluntary directors Eileen Ingram and Moore Blair along with ARCHES chairman George Graham OBE and his daughter Elizabeth, where they had the opportunity to meet the Earl and Countess of Wessex.
Randalstown ARCHES Association are now looking forward to receiving thir QAVS from the Lord Lieutenant of Co. Antrim, Joan Christie OBE at their celebratory 20th anniversary Charity Dinner Dance at the Dunsilly Hotel, next Friday, October 9, from which proceeds will be donated to Marie Curie NI.
George Graham said: “2015 is the 20th Anniversary of the formation of ARCHES and we had planned several special events to mark the occasion - a commemorative calendar, new Festival events, a charity dinner dance and a book about the history of ARCHES – “The ARCHES Story...So Far!” – which will be launched at the dinner dance.
“But the icing on the cake has been something we had not planned – the honour of receiving the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. This is, indeed, a great honour for our group; to receive such a distinguished award is beyond our expectations!”
Hazel Cameron, author of the book, said: “When we realised that their 20th Anniversary was coming up, it seemed like a good time to write a record of all that the charity has achieved. By buying the book you will not only be informing or reminding yourself of all they have done but also supporting a very worthy charity, Marie Curie NI, which will receive all proceeds from the sales.”
To find out more about the publication or the group’s anniversary Charity Dinner Dance, call the ARCHES Office on 9447 8471.