Rural mental health charity Rural Support volunteers were presented with the prestigious Queen’s Award at a special ceremony in Co. Tyrone this week.

The award is the highest form of civic recognition which can be granted to an organisation for the work of their volunteers.

Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of Tyrone, Robert Scott, made the presentation at a special reception held at the Glenavon Hotel, Cookstown.

Image source: Liam McArdle

The event was attended by almost 90 individuals including volunteers, mentors, board members, staff, funders and sponsors.

Also in attendance were the Deputy Lord Lieutenants and councillor Kerri Hughes, who also volunteers with the charity.

The honour, which is considered the equivalent of an MBE for volunteer groups, recognises the outstanding work carried out by volunteers in their local community.

Rural Support currently has 30 volunteers, who come from across all of Northern Ireland. All of its volunteers come from a rural and farming background and so understand the challenges and issues facing farmers and farm families.

Deborah Gavin, volunteer coordinator with Rural Support, said: “It is an incredible achievement for Rural Support’s volunteers to receive this award.

It recognises the commitment, expertise and support which our volunteers provide to farmers, farm families and farm businesses across the region.

“This award is a great tribute and recognition of the exemplary work our volunteers carry out, which all staff and directors are so very proud of.

“Rural Support could simply not continue its work without our volunteers, and we are extremely thankful to each and every volunteer who gives their time, knowledge and expertise on a daily basis.

“The support which our volunteers provide to our clients can help alleviate some of the stress and worry experienced, as very often individuals can feel isolated and alone when dealing with the issues and concerns that they face.”

The Queen’s Volunteer Award was created in 2002 to celebrate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee. This year, 22 groups were given the honour, joining a total of 137 groups across Northern Ireland since its inception 17 years ago.

Need help or able to offer it?

For more information about Rural Support or volunteering with Rural Support please contact the freephone helpline on: 0800-138-1678 (the line is open from Monday to Friday from 9:00am until 9:00pm).