Volunteers who drive people from such villages as Storrington and Billingshurst have won Royal recognition equivalent to an MBE.
The Queen has conferred the prestigious Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service on the Community Minibus Association for West Sussex in its 40th anniversary year.
The dedicated volunteers and escorts enable people who might otherwise be stranded in their own homes to get out and about from rural villages, using a fleet of 13 minibuses.
The volunteers, escorts and journeys are coordinated by volunteer village and divisional organisers, with the association being directed by a Board of Trustees.
The organisation provides door to door service to shopping centres, lunch clubs, and seaside locations and is run entirely by unpaid volunteers, in a variety of different roles including drivers, passenger escorts, booking staff, fleet managers, divisional organisers and many others who ensure the day to day running of the charity.
The service operates across rural West Sussex, using 13 minibuses with centres located in Ashington, Billingshurst, Five Villages, south of A27, Petworth, Pulborough, Storrington, Steyning and Wisborough Green.
Chairman of West Sussex minibus, Alistair Sheppard OBE said: “We are extremely proud and honoured to receive this award, which coincides with our 40th anniversary this year. Our tremendous group of unpaid volunteers help to maintain essential support to local communities across rural West Sussex. Passengers enjoy our friendly service and look forward to meeting both new friends and old during their trips. This award is a tribute to all the dedicated work by our volunteers, past and present.”
The UK national honour recognises the outstanding contributions made to local communities by groups of volunteers; it has an equivalent status for voluntary groups as the MBE has for individuals.In West Sussex the other winners were: Arundel Museum Society Volunteers, Ferring Conservation Group, The Volunteers of the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum.
The organisations will receive a certificate signed by The Queen and an exclusive commemorative crystal, presented by Her Majesty’s representative in West Sussex, Susan Pyper, the Lord-Lieutenant, at a special ceremony arranged by the Lieutenancy office.
The organisations have also received an invitation for representatives to attend a Royal Garden Party at Buckingham Palace this summer.
Mrs Pyper said: “I am absolutely delighted that four of our outstanding voluntary organisations in the County have been selected as winners of this most prestigious award”.
Caption volunteers celebrate and the group in action