The Queen hosts reception to celebrate voluntary action

Her Majesty The Queen, accompanied by other Members of The Royal Family, yesterday gave a reception for charities and volunteers in order to celebrate the achievements of voluntary action over the last century, and highlight the contribution of volunteering to millions of lives in the United Kingdom and throughout the world.

The scale of volunteering in today’s society is remarkable, with one in five people across the UK volunteering on a regular basis, and more than half of the population giving their time in some way at least once a year.

The reception brought together hundreds of members of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO). Among them, volunteers of all ages involved in a wide range of social, economic and environmental causes, carrying out tasks from mentoring and befriending, to restoration or gardening, and even life-saving work.

The reception marked the centenary of NCVO, whose work stems from the vision of a World War One soldier, Edward Birchall. Killed in battle in 1916, the legacy he left enabled the creation a national network of voluntary groups. Closely involved in the charity movement of the time, he foresaw the collective benefit of sharing learning and forging connections across the voluntary sector. One hundred years later, NCVO is now the largest network for charities and volunteering, supporting over 14,000 voluntary organisations of all sizes, from the biggest household-name charities to the smallest community groups.

Peter Kellner, chair of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations said:

We are immensely grateful to The Queen for recognising the role of charities and volunteers in such a special way. It’s important to remember, particularly at this point in time, the strength of our communities and the many volunteers and charities that sustain them. Without doubt, the world around us would be a very different place without them and their incredible contribution.

Ron Knight, 88, Bury St Edmunds, a dedicated volunteer at West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, said:

Meeting The Queen was a real honour, and was one of the highlights of my life. It really was terrific, and I’m appreciative to everyone who made it happen. She was very kind and made me feel welcome, and thought it was good that our patients have someone to comfort them through a difficult procedure.

I am very proud of West Suffolk Hospital – it was rated outstanding in the most recent Care Quality Commission report and I believe it truly is. It’s so nice to be a small part of such a successful team. I will continue to volunteer as long as I am able, and encourage others to do so too. It is so rewarding and has given me satisfaction and a feeling of self-worth.

Notes to editors

Her Majesty The Queen is patron of NCVO.

NCVO represents and supports over 14,000 voluntary organisations of all sizes, from the biggest household-name charities to the smallest community groups.

During 2019, NCVO and its members will be reflecting upon the achievements of voluntary action over the last century to better meet the challenges of the future.

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