A MUSLIM youth group has been praised for its voluntary work to help Armed Forces personnel and their families.

Members of Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association (AMYA) were among 300 young people recognised for their support of the Poppy Appeal at the Royal British Legion’s annual regional awards ceremony.

Young Muslims from Teesside and Newcastle raised £2,000 for the 2013 appeal, which contributed towards the £50,000 raised by AMYA nationally since 2012.

AMYA’s Hartlepool chapter, which includes members from Middlesbrough and Stockton, and Newcastle chapter received commendation awards at the event on Friday, March 7 at Gateshead Civic Centre.

A total of 63 youth organisations from Berwick to Middlesbrough were represented at the event, which celebrated the record-breaking £68,171 collected by the youngsters for the charity.

A special award was presented to ten-year-old Marley Haggan, a Sea Cadet from Hartlepool.

Marley spent every day of his half term collecting for the appeal and single-handedly raised more than £3,000.

When asked why he collected for the appeal, Marley said: “My granddad was in the Army and when I grow up I want to be a Royal Marine.

"I want to help people who are in the forces and the people who have left.”

Rachel Jobson, community fundraiser for the Legion, said she was amazed by the inspirational young people.

She said: “We are thrilled to see the young people of the North-East taking on the baton of Poppy Appeal.

“It’s a great achievement to say that the youngsters here tonight have raised a record breaking amount of money and even more poignant this year as we commemorate 100 years since Britain entered the First World War.”

Wadood Daud, spokesman for AMYA Hartlepool, said members were proud and humbled to have their fundraising work recognised.

"Our spiritual leader and the worldwide head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, has always reminded us that service to mankind is both our religious and social responsibility.

“We hope that all of us coming together to help those who have served this great country sends a positive sign of peace and harmony.”