Volunteering work carried out by groups across the region have been recognised by the King in the highest award that can be given to the sector in the UK.

The King’s Award for Voluntary Service is given to local volunteer groups to celebrate their outstanding work in their communities and is widely regarded as akin to an MBE.

Groups involved in providing food and clothing to those most in need, opening up the benefits of performing live music and supporting young people and vulnerable families are included in this years awards.

Also included are the Friends of Ropner Park at Stockton, who work to promote the use of the park by encouraging all parts of the community to come together through events and activities.

Awards have been made to:

The Genesis Project: A community support network which provides food, clothing, companionship and support across all ages;

York Women's Counselling Service: The service provides professional counselling to women experiencing psychological distress regardless of their ability to pay;

Coastwatch Redcar: A group helping to protect and preserve sealife and on the foreshore;

Vision Support in the Harrogate district: A voluntary organisation providing emotional and practical support and activities for local people who have lost or are losing their sight;

Swinton and District Excelsior Band: A group of volunteers bringing musicians and the community together through live music;

Gallows Close Centre: Volunteers who are building a safer community for young people and vulnerable families in Scarborough;

Friends of Ropner Park: Run a programme of activities and events from Easter to Christmas, with Fairs, Community Events, a Picnic-in-the-Park, an annual charity walk and a Summer Music Programme.

The award was created in 2002 to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of the Queen’s Coronation and the King is continuing with the awards  - which are given to organisations for life. Presentations are held through the King’s local representatives the Lord Lieutenants.

Lord Lieutenant for North Yorkshire, Jo Ropner said: "We know what a vital role that community and voluntary organisations play.

"In North Yorkshire, there are some very specific needs and challenges that are faced with such a vast geographical area encompassing some extremely rural communities.

"Advice support and services are proving invaluable to communities through not just the efforts of the organisations honoured, but so many other voluntary groups as well.

"I would, however, like to pay tribute to those organisations recognised, and to thank them for all the hard work and dedication they have given to our local communities.”

Mrs Sue Snowden, His Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of County Durham said: "I am delighted to congratulate the Friends of Ropner Park on this wonderful recognition by His Majesty The King.

"They are an outstanding group that ensure that that Stockton’s magnificent park is a place of engagement, diversity and inclusion."

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Stan Taylorson, Chair of the Friends of Ropner Park added: "All our events are free to the public and they could not go ahead without the support and dedication of our wonderful group of volunteers and members.

"The biggest event, which we organise, in collaboration with our friends from the Community Welfare Trust, is the Eid Fusion Festival, which we hold every summer.

"It is the largest multi-cultural event held in Stockton in the year, and is a celebration of diversity and community cohesion. We also link up with other local community groups and charities in their work supporting vulnerable people."