South Shields charity gets royal seal of approval

Cancer Connections toasted its Queen's Award with its own royal garden party for supporters.

Cancer Connections toasted its Queen's Award with its own royal garden party for supporters.

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A vital South Tyneside cancer charity celebrated winning the royal seal of approval – with a party fit for a Queen.

Cancer Connections has scooped the prestigious Queen’s Award for Voluntary Services for its sterling efforts to support cancer fighters and their families since its launch in 2007.

Deborah Roberts of Cancer Connections with the present and former mayor and mayoresses and volunteers.

Deborah Roberts of Cancer Connections with the present and former mayor and mayoresses and volunteers.

Charity co-founders Deborah Roberts and Reg Hall have already had a visit to Buckingham Palace to meet fellow award winners – but decided to bring a royal touch of class back home when they received the honour from Lord Lieutenant for Tyne and Wear, Susan Winfield OBE, at the organisation’s base in Harton Lane, South Shields.

The charity threw a Queen’s Garden Party of their own – with scores of service users, staff, volunteers, businesses who have supported the charity, including Margaret Barbour, boss of retail giant Barbour, joining the South Tyneside Mayor and Mayoress and their civic predecessors attending the bash.

Deborah Roberts, 57, said she was ‘proud’ to receive the award but says it was only made possible by the steadfast support of the public.

The Queen’s Award is the highest voluntary award a group can receive in the UK and recognises groups making a difference to the lives of people in their community.

Mrs Roberts said: “We had the flags out and everyone got dressed up for the Queen’s Garden Party theme. It was a lovely day, we are so proud.

“There is just a great sense of achievement, pride and honour, because it is such a prestigious award.

“It’s about the volunteers and every person who has given time to help us get here, by raising money or volunteering and being a part of what we do.

“If it wasn’t for the people of South Tyneside and their backing, we wouldn’t have this award.”

Cancer Connections chairman Reg Hall said: “This will be an enormous encouragement for all our volunteers and staff, and a wonderful lift for the whole of the South Tyneside Borough – for it is the people of South Tyneside who have made Cancer Connections what it is today”.

As well as providing therapies, counselling and support to the people of the borough with cancer, the charity organises the annual Faith, Hope and Love Walk of Life, a 24 hour event held in Bents Park, South Shields, to raise vital funds to support those battling the deadly disease.

The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service is the highest award given to local volunteer groups across the UK to recognise outstanding work in their communities. The awards were created in 2002 to celebrate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee.