THE dedication of hard working volunteers from five organisations across the Dudley borough has been recognised with a prestigious award from the Queen.

Dudley Canal and Tunnel Trust; Dudley Voices For Choice; St John’s Church Preservation Group; Top Church Training: The Connect Project and Discover U have each won the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in recognition of the outstanding contribution of volunteers in helping their communities.

The award is the the highest accolade a voluntary group can receive in the UK and the recipients are announced every year on June 2, to mark the anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation.

Discover U, based in Wollaston, helps people with learning and physical difficulties develop new skills to gain confidence and employment.

Steve Smith, chair of trustees at the charity, said the team were "chuffed to bits" to be recognised and the team has dedicated their win to the late Lynn Brooks, who was the longest serving volunteer at the organisation who passed away recently.

Dudley Canal and Tunnel Trust picked up the award for the work of volunteers who have done so much to promote Dudley's industrial heritage and promoted the Black County nationally.

Becci Cooper-Sayer, volunteer co-ordinator at the Trust said: "The volunteers have been an instrumental part of the organisation from the start. It was a group of local young adults who formed the charity 60 years ago with the aim of protecting the Dudley Canal Tunnel.

"It's great that volunteers are still a key part of what we do today and fantastic that their hard work and dedication has been recognised in such a prestigious way."

The team at Dudley Voices for Choice were celebrated for their work for giving people with learning disabilities and autism a voice on how life experiences can be improved.

The project helped more than 600 people last year and works with council and medics how best to make changes to help disadvantaged people.

Sarah Offley, chief officer for Dudley Voices for Choice, said: "We have the pleasure of doing this everyday with our volunteer self-advocates, who share their personal experiences making sure that people with a learning disability and people with autism have their voices heard."

Top Church Training: The Connect Project, based in Dudley, was recognised for its work in helping hundreds of young people across the Black Country gain skills and employment opportunities.

Karen Fielder, head of operations for The Connect Project, said: "We are delighted that the work that we do has been recognised and we would like to pay tribute to all our volunteers for their hard work and commitment to the charity."

Also flying the flag for volunteering in Dudley was the St John's Church Preservation Group, who won the award for their hard work in saving the historic St John's Church in Kates Hill for the community.

The award comes as the volunteers are once again having to fight for the church to survive the coronavirus lockdown.

Deb Brownlee, chair of the group, said: "We were honoured to be nominated for this award, but to actually receive it, against all the competition around the UK was just the greatest acknowledgement of the hard work carried out by our volunteers. Much of our work is done behind the scenes, and it's great to know that team is noticed and appreciated."

The winners were among the 19 organisations to win the award in the West Midlands.

Councillor David Stanley, the Mayor of Dudley, said: "It makes me very proud as first citizen that of the 19 charities to receive this prestigious award across the whole West Midlands region this year, more than a quarter are from our borough.

"The five recipients are all very worthy and are making a real difference to people in our communities, giving their own time to help others.

"I look forward to meeting them all when the situation improves to thank them in person."