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Hartlepool Carers have been honoured with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service (QAVS)

Hartlepool Carers are overwhelmed to have been honoured with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service (QAVS), the highest recognition a voluntary group can receive in the UK.

The 27-year-old charity supports around 4,000 unpaid carers of all ages, has 11 volunteer Trustees and a further 40 volunteering throughout the organisation. Today Hartlepool Carers is celebrating after joining an exclusive list of groups to have been honoured by Her Majesty The Queen, receiving the QAVS that is equivalent to an MBE.

As well as the prestigious Award, Hartlepool Carers will receive two tickets to attend the Royal Garden Party at Buckingham Palace this summer and the QAVS crystal and certificate will be presented by the Lord Lieutenant of County Durham, Mrs Susan Snowdon.

“We are absolutely thrilled. It means so much to us all because we all know how much work is involved in being a carer and a volunteer. This award is about all of us connected with Hartlepool Carers and everyone who has ever been a part of such a fantastic charity. I want to say a big thank you to all of the volunteers that make this place work. We wouldn’t be able to reach as many families as we do without them.” – Christine Fewster Hartlepool Carers’ Chief Executive Officer

Hartlepool Carers look at seven areas to help the carers across the town: education, training & employment, social support, respite, mental health, finances, living well at home and their caring role.

It has operated since Hilda Hamilton and Peggy Mordaunt, who were caring for their own husbands, felt something should be done to help people in their caring roles in 1996. Initially little support groups were created, such as cake and coffee mornings that still take place today. After having a couple of headquarters, Hartlepool Carers moved to Lowthian Road ten years ago when a board of Trustees was created by Ruby Marshall – ‘the driving force behind what it is today’.  

Christine said: “Ruby was the chair of the charity for 15 years and she died two years ago at the beginning of Covid. We are having a memorial on June 11 to celebrate the work she did across the town.
“She was passionate about moving the charity forward, brought in other volunteers on the board, and made sure Hartlepool Carers had the right skills within the group to develop and make sure the town had the right services. Still to this day we talk about the legacy she has left behind, her passion was endless. It does live on and we talk about Ruby and how proud she would have been, especially with this Queen’s Award – I’m sure everyone will be.”

Christine got involved six years ago when she was approached by the Trustees because she was a carer herself. She has two sons, James, 12, and Harry, 10, who have a rare diagnosis of MASA Syndrome, a degenerative and neurological condition, and autism too.

She said: “I know what it is like to be a carer, the difficulties people face. We want to help people at the start of their caring journey because it is a minefield, it is really difficult to navigate through.

“Our oldest volunteer is 90 years old and the youngest is 14. We then have more than 4,000 carers we support in Hartlepool and all of those are unpaid carers. They are all unpaid looking after loved ones with difficulties.

“The Queen’s Award is extremely special to us all. In my opinion it is in recognition of the whole group – the carers, the volunteers, everyone. We save the country billions of pounds a year because of that framework. It is a very proud day.”

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