TWO ISLE of Wight volunteer groups are proud to have received a Queen's Award for voluntary service.

Pan Together, based in Newport, has received the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK — the equivalent of an individual being awarded an MBE.

Founded in 2007 by Isle of Wight Cllr Geoff Brodie as a membership-based, community support organisation, Pan Together has grown from strength to strength in recent years. 

It secured charitable status in 2018 and received a National Lottery Community Fund grant in 2019.

This allowed the charity to recruit Rachel Thomson as manager at its home at Downside Community Centre.

The onset of the Covid pandemic, in an area with many existing challenges, saw Rachel and her team of volunteers and two part-time staff rise to the challenge. 

Their hard work and commitment is recognised by this award.

Cllr Geoff Brodie, trustee and treasurer, said: "Pan Together is one of my proudest achievements over the last 17 years and I am delighted for everyone involved with this award. 

"They all deserve it so much. They have often stepped in to help people where the statutory authorities have failed them."

Chair of trustees, Laura Byrne said: "We are absolutely over the moon to receive this amazing recognition for Pan Together, which we would never have dreamed of. 

"Huge thanks are due to our volunteers — young, old and in all their diversity — for everything they do to support struggling and vulnerable local people."

Not-for-profit organisation, Sandown Green Town Volunteers, has also been honoured with a Queen's Award for voluntary service. 

Isle of Wight County Press: Sandown Green Town Volunteers.Sandown Green Town Volunteers.

The group has transformed their town, providing clean, attractive and colourful public spaces. 

With regular gardening sessions they care for flower beds, planters and troughs from the Cliff Path to Yaverland, while the beds in front of the pier are a centrepiece for the town.

They have also 'rewilded' parts of the coastal path and planted hundreds of hedgerow trees.

Christine Jackson, SGT volunteers chair, said: "It's wonderful to have the hard work of our volunteers recognised in this way. 

"They are out in all weathers working to make Sandown an attractive place in which to work, live and visit."

The Island winners are among only 244 charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups to receive the prestigious award this year.

Representatives of the winning groups will receive their awards from Susie Sheldon, Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of the Isle of Wight, later this summer, and two volunteers from each group will attend a garden party at Buckingham Palace in May, 2023.

The Lord-Lieutenant said: "I am delighted that the fantastic work of these volunteers has been recognised, and I am grateful for their efforts to benefit the lives of others and to improve the Island environment.

"The high number of awards won on the Island over the last few years, underlines our community’s commitment to serve others."