Dream-A-Way Earns Prestigious Queen's Award
A ROYAL seal of approval has been given to a city charity - because it has won a prestigious Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.
Dream-A-Way is celebrating being chosen as one of only two recipients in Devon and 79 across the whole country, after the awards were announced today.
The charity, which is based in the city and run by volunteers, arranges holidays for seriously ill or disabled people of all ages from across the south-west.
An official certificate signed by the Queen, will now be presented to the charity by the Lord Lieutenant of Devon, and it will also receive commemorative crystal and be allowed to use the ‘Unsung Heroes’ royal crest on its official stationery.
The Queen launched the annual honour, formerly know as the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Award, to recognise and reward excellence in voluntary activities carried out by groups in the community.
It is given to groups who regularly devote their time to helping others in the community, improving the quality of life and opportunity for others and provide an outstanding service.
Marc Astley, Editor of the Express & Echo celebrates with Dream-A-Way Chairman Jeff Merrett MBE and members
of the Dream-A-Way team after the announcement of the Queens Award.
More than 10,000 people and their carers and families have benefited from day trips, outings, and dream trips of a lifetime from the charity, ranging from staying in luxury caravans at the Haven Holidays’ Devon Cliffs resort to travelling to Disneyland Paris.
These deserving people including Jo and Trevor Allen and their sons Jed, 11, and Aston, six, from Hamlin Gardens, Heavitree.
Both Jed, who is a wheelchair user and his brother have Duchenne muscular dystrophy, which is a form of the progressive muscle weakness condition.
The charity has made the family’s dreams come true by donating £2,000 towards their trip to Disney World Florida next January.
“Dream-A-Way deserve to win this award,” said Jo. “They are absolutely fantastic for helping families like us. This holiday means so much to us. It is going to be a once in a lifetime experience for our boys. Aston is looking forward to meeting Goofy and Jed says he can’t wait to do everything there! They are so excited and we are ecstatic about being able to go there because of the charity’s help.”
The Express & Echo is among the sponsors of Dream-A-Way’s fundraising Dragon Boat race on Exeter Quay on August 31 and the charity has also agreed to administer the We Care fund as part of the Echo’s We Care campaign to help support carers.
Charity chairman Jeff Merrett MBE said: “The timing of this award couldn’t be more wonderful, as we are about to have our Crystal Ball celebrating our 15th year, at the Exeter Chiefs’ rugby ground in Sandy Park on Friday, June 20.
“The award shows how far we have come. It is incredible to think that we have now raised more than £750,000, having raised £10,063 in our first year and £126,000 last year.”
“I am extremely honoured that we have been chosen to receive this prestigious award,” said Jeff. “The charity has become successful because of the hard work of our trustees and committee and the tremendous support from our Friends of Dream-A-Way, supporters and sponsors. We hope to build on this success and continue to make dreams come true for those less fortunate than ourselves.”
One of the charity’s many ‘unsung heroes’ is committee member Charlie Thomas, 81, from Meadow Way, Heavitree, Exeter. Charlie does not like to draw attention to himself but has been with the charity since it was launched and his contribution ranges from escorting wheelchair users to events, to selling raffle tickets, providing cuddly toys for youngsters and even joining in this year’s sponsored slim.
“There are lots of people who should take credit for this award, not me,” he says modestly. “It’s amazing when I remember back to when the charity started, when we all sat down and tried to think up a name for it! The award is marvellous and I am just doing my little stint to help. Hearing we have won this award is out of this world.”
I cannot describe the feeling that this prestigious award has given me and everyone connected with DREAM-A-WAY.
We would like to thank everyone who has supported Dream-A-Way for your support in the past and we look forward to continue to work with you in the future to ensure that together we help even more people less fortunate than ourselves!
A very proud Chairman !
You can read all about the Queen's Award For Voluntary Service (Formerly The Queen's Golden Jubilee Award) here.
1. Debbie Bent, 2. Bob Beer MCMI, 3. Charlie Thomas, 4. Steve Beer, 5. Tim Rea FRICS, 6. Bernice Woodhead,
7. Kate Clarke, 8. Marc Astley, 9. Gill Freeman, 10. Jeff Merrett MBE, 11. Marie Rose
Picture & some components of this story courtesy of the Express & Echo