HARD-WORKING voluntary groups in Essex have been nominated for an annual prestigious award.

A total of 23 Essex voluntary groups have been announced for this year’s Queen’s Award for Voluntary Services (QAVS) at a reception.

The nominated groups include Colchester Foodbank, which fed 7,000 people in crisis last year and Colchester and District Talking Newspaper, which provides weekly local news for the benefit of blind and otherwise visually impaired people.

Lads Need Dads, in Clacton, who work with boys age 11-15 with absent fathers or limited access to a male role model to prevent them becoming at risk of under achieving, offending, exclusion or dropping out of school have also been nominated together with Helping Hands Essex, which helps people to recover from alcoholism.

Essex Police's Volunteer Police Cadets, who work with teenagers to empower them to lead social action in their communities in multiple areas of the county such as Tendring, Colchester and Maldon has also been shortlisted for the award, as well as YMCA, which is Christian charity working with people of all faiths and people of none to meet the needs of children, young people and their families, and supporting them so they can develop and grow and achieve their goals in life.

Jennifer Tolhurst, Lord Lieutenant for Essex, said: “The voluntary sector in Essex make a huge contribution to the well-being and life of our great county.

“It is wonderful to see so many groups nominated for this prestigious award and to be able to bring together those who are close to the voluntary sector to encourage them to find really outstanding groups for future nomination.”

The QAVS Reception brings together all local authorities from across Essex, the Community Voluntary Services (CVSs) from across the county and others closely connected to the voluntary sector.

John Jowers, Chairman of Essex County Council, said: “It is a great pleasure to jointly host this QAVS Reception with the Lord Lieutenant, in conjunction with Southend and Thurrock Councils, and sponsored by MITIE Facilities Services, to thank the excellent voluntary groups who have won and those who have been nominated for the QAVS.

“The reception is also an opportunity to promote the Queen’s Award for future nominations."

The winners of the QAVS are announced every year on June 2 to coincide with HM the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

The nominated groups are:

1. 3rd Chalkwell Bay Sea Scouts

2. 57 West

3. Canvey Island Youth Project (Yellow Door)

4. Chess Hub (Church Homeless Emergency Support)

5. Children’s Burn’s Club

6. City of Chelmsford Mencap

7. Colchester and District Talking Newspaper

8. Colchester Foodbank

9. Essex Police Special Constabulary

10. Helping Hands Essex

11. Kids Inspire

12. Lads Need Dads

13. Patient Health Group, Princess Alexandra Hospital, Harlow

14. Rainbow Services

15. Support 4 Sight

16. South Essex Community Hub

17. Southend Community Events CIC

18. St John the Baptist Church and Tilbury Foodbank

19. Templesprings Music Centre

20. Volunteer Police Cadets, Essex Police

21. The Wilderness Foundation

22. Waltham Abbey Youth 2000

23. YMCA Essex