We are very proud to receive such a prestigious award and we are incredibly grateful to our wonderful volunteers who have contributed so much to our charity over the 10 years since the organisation was started.
The London Gazette announced DanceSyndrome as one of the groups to be awarded a 2019 Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service yesterday. The winners are announced each year on 2 June, the anniversary of The Queen’s Coronation.
The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service is the highest award given to local volunteer groups across the UK to recognise outstanding work done in their own communities. It was created in 2002 to celebrate the Golden Jubilee. It is the MBE for volunteer groups. This prestigious honour recognises the exceptional contributions made to local communities by groups voluntarily devoting their time for the benefit of others.
For those who don’t know, DanceSyndrome is a multi-award winning dance charity that was founded by Jen Blackwell, who happens to have Down’s syndrome, because she found it difficult to find opportunities in community dance due to her disability. Our ethos is that disability should never be a barrier to following your dreams and they empower people with and without disabilities to pursue a career in dance.
Thanks to funding from Spirit of 2012 and the National Lottery Community Fund, DanceSyndrome has grown significantly over the last three years and now works with over 40 volunteers in total, in a range of roles. We offer weekly community dance workshops which are co-led by volunteers who have completed our unique leadership training course. We also have a performance team of volunteers, who give inspiring performances at special events to challenge the way that people think about disability.
The Lord Lieutenant of Lancashire, as The Queen’s representative, will soon present the group with a certificate, signed by The Queen, and a commemorative crystal award at a local ceremony. DanceSyndrome Spokesperson and Ambassador Becky Rich was also invited to a royal garden party at Buckingham Palace on 15th May.
On finding out about the award, DanceSyndrome Founder Director Jen Blackwell said, “Wow, I’m just stunned and over the moon. It is the most amazing thing ever. I could never have thought DS could have won this award when we started out 10 years ago when it was just me with no one, nowhere to go, no other dancers”.
Speaking about the garden party, Becky (pictured left at the palace) said “The biggest and best opportunity ever was given to me recently. It was a special invitation sent by the Lord Chamberlain to attend a Royal Garden Party at Buckingham Palace. To have the invitation in my hand meant a lot to me. It was a real privilege and I was truly overwhelmed and very excited.
“I was very lucky to go with my dad, Simon, and we were both so proud to be at the palace. Prince Charles, Camilla and Princes Anne arrived to the military band playing God Save the Queen. They then joined all of us for traditional afternoon tea in the beautiful gardens, which was absolutely fantastic and we all had a great time.
“The Royal Garden Party ended at 6 o’clock and the military band finished our wonderful and most special day with the National Anthem. These memories will stay with my dad and I forever.”
Speaking about the award, DanceSyndrome Managing Director Dawn Vickers said “For charities like DanceSyndrome the Queens Award for Voluntary Services is the highest honour that we can achieve and we are completely overwhelmed to have been chosen to receive the award this year. DanceSyndrome wouldn’t exist without the hard work and dedication of our incredible volunteers and we are delighted that their effort has been recognised at such a high level! We hope that this award helps to raise the profile of volunteering and helps people to see how much value there can be in giving your time to your local community.”
Charities like DanceSyndrome would not exist without the generous donations of time from our incredible team of volunteers and we are thrilled that they have been given this most prestigious recognition.
If you would like to find out more about how you can support our work as a volunteer, fundraiser or as a donor, please visit the Support Us page. Alternatively, you can donate directly using the box below.