A Woking-based disability charity has been rewarded for their enduring commitment to the local community with the prestigious Queen’s Award for Voluntary Services, the MBE for volunteer groups.
Surrey Dolphins Swimobility’s selfless community work has been ongoing for more than a decade, helping people who have physical disabilities to improve mobility and strength through water therapy.
Presented annually, The Queen’s Award is the highest accolade given to volunteer groups across the UK, with only 187 organisations nationwide receiving the gong this year. It recognises the outstanding contributions made by voluntary organisations who devote their time for the benefit of others in their local communities.
Surrey Dolphins Swimobility was established by Knaphill resident and Vice-Chairman Theresa Fuoco BEM in 2002. Since then the charity has grown into an organisation that relies on 20 volunteers across a variety of roles such as swim instructors and assistants, drivers and trustees. They provide vital help for an immensely diverse group, whose ages range from 18 to 86.
Members include amputees, stroke victims, patients of hip or knee replacement operations, as well as those who are blind or have other physical disabilities such as MS, Parkinsons or arthritis.
As well as rehabilitation and conditioning exercises carried out in the pool, the group’s commitment to aiding those with unique physical problems extends to providing respite care for the friends and family who help to look after them.
They also provide a platform for its members to get to know each other and establish friendships, with refreshments being provided after each pool session and regular day trips out as a group.
Theresa said: “It is an honour to be recognised by Her Majesty the Queen for the support provided to disabled people within the community by our volunteers.
“This award highlights the dedication of everyone involved in the charity who, in many cases, have worked tirelessly to improve local people’s lives for many years.”
Theresa, who was presented with the British Empire Medal last year and was introduced to The Queen at a Royal Garden Party in June, will be alongside royalty again to accept the award from HRH the Countess of Wessex in July.
She added: “We are very honoured to have her presenting the award and it’s great to have had our hard work recognised. The whole team is very proud and extremely humbled.”
Pat Boon, a member of Surrey Dolphins Swimobility, also spoke glowingly about the job the group does, saying: “Volunteers go above and beyond to help their members to regain some independence and restore their emotional well-being.
“I’m so pleased that they are being recognised with this national honour.”