The volunteers behind the North-east’s Celebrate Aberdeen events have been honoured with The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK.
The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service aims to recognise outstanding work by volunteer groups to benefit their local communities. It was created in 2002 to celebrate The Queen’s Golden Jubilee. Recipients are announced each year on 2nd June, the anniversary of The Queen’s Coronation.
Organised and run entirely by a small team of volunteers, Celebrate Aberdeen was founded to showcase and celebrate the enormous contribution that charities, voluntary groups and social enterprises make to the lives of countless people across Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire.
The first Celebrate Aberdeen parade took place in 2011, bringing together more than 3,500 people supporting and representing 130 organisations.
The parade in 2011 was followed by parades in 2012, 2013 while 2014 saw an altered Celebrate Aberdeen format which turned the focus on performers and community groups taking to stages across the city centre to provide a weekend of entertainment.
The parade returned in 2015 and has since been held annually until the pandemic forced cancellation in 2020. The 2019 parade, the biggest to date, saw more than 180 organisations and over 5,000 marchers take part with thousands more people lining the Union Street as spectators.
Ongoing restrictions mean that organisers have taken the decision to also cancel this year’s parade and weekend events, due to take place at the end of August.
In 2018, a new event was added to the Celebrate Aberdeen calendar when the Celebrate Aberdeen Awards were launched. The awards recognise and celebrate individuals and charitable organisations who have made an outstanding contribution to life in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire. Held in 2018, and 2019 at P&J Live, the awards, which are entirely funded through the support of local businesses, saw 500 people attend the ceremonies which celebrated the achievements of finalists and winners across 11 categories.
Planning for both events begins around February every year, with volunteers spending hundreds of hours to bring everything together. The core group of volunteers is joined by dozens of others who turn up on parade day to act as marshals.
Celebrate Aberdeen is one of 241 charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups to receive the prestigious QAVS award this year. The number of nominations remains high year on year, showing that the voluntary sector is thriving and full of innovative ideas to make life better for those around them.
Recipients include volunteer groups from across the UK, including a community radio station in Inverness, an inclusive tennis club in Lincolnshire; a children’s bereavement charity in London; a support group for those living with dementia and their carers in North Yorkshire; a volunteer minibus service in Cumbria; a group supporting young people in Belfast; and a mountain rescue team in Powys.
Representatives of Celebrate Aberdeen will receive the award crystal and certificate from Lord Provost Barney Crockett, Lord-Lieutenant of Aberdeen later this summer. Two volunteers from Celebrate Aberdeen will also be invited to attend a garden party at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in July 2022 (depending on restrictions at the time), along with other recipients of this year’s Award.
Celebrate Aberdeen founder Morven Mackenzie said: “Our small team of volunteers works pretty much all year round in order to put on our August weekend and September awards events. They do so without expecting anything at all in return.
“To win such a prestigious award as The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service is testament to all their hard work and efforts, and it really is lovely to see their contribution and commitment honoured in this way.
“The North-east third sector is so important to our region and we will continue to do as much as we can to make sure that those who work and volunteer within it get the recognition they very much deserve.”