Wonderful, passionate and warm - just three of the words used to describe Rennie Grove Hospice Care’s 1,500 volunteers as they were presented with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service at a prestigious ceremony on Monday.

Herts Advertiser: Former Grove House patient and current volunteer Margaret Fensome officially cut the cake with Robert Voss, The Lord Lieutenant of Hertfordshire.Former Grove House patient and current volunteer Margaret Fensome officially cut the cake with Robert Voss, The Lord Lieutenant of Hertfordshire. (Image: Archant)

Created in 2002 to celebrate the anniversary of The Queen’s Coronation, The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service is the highest award given to local volunteer groups across the UK to recognise outstanding work done in their own communities. It is the MBE for volunteer groups.

A certificate signed by the Queen and a commemorative crystal were presented to the volunteers by Robert Voss, Lord Lieutenant of Hertfordshire and by the Countess Verulam at the ceremony held at Grove House in St Albans.

In her speech Lady Verulam said: “This Award is a great achievement as there are many applicants for it.

“I am thrilled for Rennie Grove volunteers who provide such a beneficial service for patients in the county.”

Herts Advertiser: The volunteers from the Rennie Grove Fleetville shop.The volunteers from the Rennie Grove Fleetville shop. (Image: Archant)

Ruth Crouch, Christine Wright, Rosemary Webb and Sue Lane, all volunteers from Rennie Grove’s Fleetville shop in St Albans with a combined total of 44 years volunteering, were among a number of volunteers present at the ceremony. When asked what the award meant to them they said they were “very pleased and proud” and that it was “a pat on the back and nice to be recognised”.

Les Pedrick who volunteers in the Day Hospice at Grove House said: “The award is brilliant but the main thing is that is nice to be part of a team. I feel really appreciated as a Rennie Grove volunteer and I get back much more than I give.”

Accepting the award, Professor Stephen Spiro, Chair of Rennie Grove’s Board of Trustees said: “This award reflects on every single volunteer we have. The warmth, passion and quality of our volunteers and their determination to do their very best is humbling. This award is a wonderful way of saying thank you to each of them.”

“I feel enormous pride on your behalf,” he added.

Also present at the ceremony were the Pets As Therapy visiting team, Freddie and his owner Jane. Freddie and Jane have been visiting the Day Hospice at Grove House for around three years.

“Freddie is good at spotting people who are poorly,” Jane explained. “He is also popular with people who can’t have a dog of their own.”

Freddie was presented with his own special award – a Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service badge that he can wear with pride on his coat.

Operating in a wide variety of roles including trustees, van drivers, complementary therapists, Family Support listeners, shop assistants, receptionists, office helpers and event marshals, over 1,500 volunteers give around 140,000 hours of their time to help the charity every year.

It is estimated that the value of these volunteers to Rennie Grove is around £1.5 million each year.

Sue Varvel, director of nursing and clinical services and other members of Rennie Grove Hospice Care’s senior management team have embarked on a series of visits to each location where volunteers are based to personally deliver a badge to each of them.

Sue added: “I feel so proud. We simply cannot do what we do without our volunteers.

“We’re a team. We are all responsible for providing care for our patients and their families and for raising the funds we need to do that. I want our volunteers to feel so proud – this award is for them. They are wonderful and I thank them from the bottom of my heart.”

To find out more about joining Rennie Grove’s award-winning team, please go to www.renniegrove.org/volunteer.