Three Oxfordshire volunteer groups have won the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, which is the highest award given to local volunteer groups in the UK.

National Trails volunteers working to maintain the Thames Path and Ridgeway; the Service by Emergency Rider Volunteers (SERV), also known as Blood Bikes; and the Sinodun Players and Corn Exchange, Wallingford, have all been granted the award.

The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service recognises the outstanding work of volunteer groups in their own communities. It was created in 2002 to celebrate the anniversary of the Queen’s coronation.

The equivalent of an MBE for volunteer groups, only 230 awards have been made nationally this year.

Representatives of each group will receive the award from Tim Stevenson, Lord Lieutenant of Oxfordshire, this summer. In May 2021, two volunteers from each group will attend a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace.

The National Trails, Thames Path and Ridgeway Volunteers’ role is to monitor and maintain the two national trails. Steve Tabbitt, Thames Path National Trail manager said: “It’s an honour for our volunteers to receive the award and it's really great that all the hard work and effort that our volunteers put into the National Trail is being acknowledged.”

Blood Bikes received the award for their express out of hours delivery service of blood, specimens, and milk on motorbikes to support the NHS and its patients across Oxfordshire,

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Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, and Northamptonshire.

Kamran Irani, chairman of Blood Bikes, said: “This is a great honour. We are very proud and humbled by this fabulous award which is a testament and recognition of the great work done by our members in helping NHS hospitals in our communities in all weather and at all times of the day and night.”

The Sinodun Players and Corn Exchange Wallingford also won the award. This volunteer group is not only an amateur dramatic group but also run the Corn Exchange as a centre for community arts and entertainment. The Players transformed the Corn Exchange from a derelict building into a popular community facility.

Oxford Mail:

Dr Kate Tiller, Deputy Lieutenant for Oxfordshire, nominated the group and said: “Wallingford Corn Exchange, home of the Sinodun Players Amateur Dramatic Society, shows how a traditional local organisation can transform itself and develop into a key community asset for the 21st century.

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"Described by its users as ‘the heart of the community’, not only is it a cultural landmark but importantly it serves as a cross generational meeting hub where people of all backgrounds are welcome to both enjoy the experience as well as to volunteer their own unique skills.”