Honiton Dementia Action Alliance, a group of volunteers based in the town and villages around Honiton have been honoured with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK.

Entirely volunteer led and run, HDAA works extremely hard to help make the lives of people touched by dementia in our community a little easier. Aged between 9 and 90 our 40 plus band of volunteers come from across the generations and from all walks of community life.

Each one plays their own valuable part within the organisation. They may be serving teas or making fresh flower arrangements for Honiton Memory Cafe, acting as ushers at the dementia friendly Nostalgic Cinema, driving a minibus on one of their many outings or leading one of the regular dementia friendly ambles.

Other volunteers are enthusiastic fundraisers for the Honiton Admiral Nurse Campaign or give of their time and professional skills to sit on one of the committees.

No matter what role they play within the organisation, each and every one brings, warmth, kindness and the precious gift of time to help make Honiton the truly Dementia Friendly community it has become.

Heather Penwarden, Chairman of Honiton DAA along with longstanding volunteer Win Cameron were extremely honoured to attend a garden party at Buckingham Palace in May

Honiton DAA is one of 281 charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups to receive the prestigious award this year. The number of nominations and awards has increased year on year since the awards were introduced in 2002, showing that the voluntary sector is thriving and full of innovative ideas to make life better for those around them.

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.  Winners are announced each year on 2 June – the anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation. Award winners this year are wonderfully diverse.  They include volunteers helping people overcome mental health problems through sport, volunteers supporting people living with dementia, volunteers using caravans as mobile cafe/information centres in geographically remote locations and another group mentoring children who have a parent in prison.

Representatives of Honiton Dementia Action Alliance will receive the award from Mr David Fursdon, Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of Devon later this summer.

Honiton Dementia Action Alliance Chairman Heather Penwarden says:

“All members of Honiton Dementia Action Alliance feel hugely honoured, slightly stunned and needless to say absolutely delighted to be awarded the QAVS and to have their work recognised in such a special way.

I am deeply proud of all that Honiton Dementia Action Alliance has managed to achieve over the past few years

Our aim is for Honiton to be a safe and inclusive palace to live if you have dementia. With over 2000 people from retail outlets, businesses and organisation around the town having attended one of our Dementia Friends awareness sessions, I believe we all have a part to play in supporting people living with dementia and their families to carry on feeling valued members of community life.

All this has been achieved through the amazing dedication of our volunteers and from the understanding and commitment to the cause from our whole community.

I see this is an award for each and every one of our volunteers and indeed for the entire community of Honiton.

If through receiving this award we can inspire other individuals and communities to learn from our experiences how absolutely amazing that would be.”