The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service

THE Princess Royal’s standard flew proudly from the watch tower of the NCI Portland Bill station as she unveiled a plaque to open the station’s new training centre which Portland station manager Geoff Peters said she had asked to perform this ceremony and present the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. The watchkeepers are celebrating the honour of being given the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service (announced on Saturday 2nd June). The QAVS is the highest award given to local volunteer groups across the UK to recognize outstanding work carried out in their own communities. It was created in 2002 and is announced each year on the anniversary of the Queen’s coronation. It has been called ‘the MBE for volunteer groups’.

Geoff Peters Station Manager of Portland Bill NCI, who headed the bid for the QAVS, said,

 It is great news for the Dorset NCI Stations and most importantly recognition for the volunteers, not forgetting those people who backed our bid and made it possible, I feel so proud.

 The Princess Royal was welcomed by the Lord Lieutenant of Dorset Mrs Anthony Pitt-Rivers who presented a line-up of guests including the vice-chairman of Dorset County Council, David Crowhurst, Borough mayor councillor, Margaret Leicester, Portland deputy mayor councillor, Les Ames, NCI chairman, Alan Richards, Portland station manager, Geoff Peters, Commander Rupert Best, Philip George, court leet agent and Bailiff and Andy Sargent, coxwain of Weymouth Lifeboat.

Mrs Pitt-Rivers gave a brief account of the work of the NCI before inviting the Princess Royal to present the Queen’s Award. Princess Anne praised the work of NCI volunteers on which the organisation depends and she passed on ‘a very big thank you’ on behalf of all who use the sea and cliffs before adding that she hoped we were all enjoying the atmosphere of the sailing Olympics. NCI was founded in 1994 to support HM Coastguard by keeping a visual and radio watch along the UK’s shores. Its members play an essential role in the network that keeps Britain’s coast and inshore waters safe for commercial and recreational users, watching for any problems or potential dangers and reporting them to the Coastguard. NCI receives no money from government or other official sources and relies entirely on contributions from the public.

 Mr Best, who nominated the NCI for the award said: “These volunteers are splendid  people who do a splendid job which is all the more necessary with the increase in leisure sailing around our coast and the departure of the coastguard helicopter and, as Master of Trinity House, it is very appropriate that HRH should have presented the Queen’s Award.”

Before their departure, the Princess made time to have a word with everyone present.

Portland Bill Station fundraiser Kim Scard said: “Today has proved fantastic recognition for the job carried out by NCI volunteers and through fundraising it is easy to see that it is a charity that our local community has taken to heart.”

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