KIND-HEARTED carers from Staffordshire were honoured last week with the Queen's Award for Voluntary Services.
The Monthly Alzheimer's Support Evenings (MASE), were presented with a plaque and trophy to mark the recognition by the Vice Lord-Leuitenant for Staffordshire, Colonel Michael Beatty at a special ceremony during one of the group's regular meetings at Haughton Village Hall.
Daphne Sharp, who helped set up the meetings five years ago together with Elaine Dunlop, told the Newsletter the evening had been a 'fantastic success' with carers and cared for celebrating the honour side by side.
"We asked the Lord Lieutenant to come to us at one of our monthly groups because it was the carers and the cared for who had nominated us for the award," she said.
"They all wrote letters of support for us and they were so proud during the evening."
"I lost my brother to Alzheimer's at the age of 61, and Elaine, who runs the group with me, also lost her mothern to Alzheimer's.
"Elaine and I met at a Dementia meeting and we struck up a friendship," she said.
"Originally we volunteered together for three years at another organisation, but we realised people didn't want to talk about dementia for two hours a week they wanted to take two hours of normality."
Mrs Sharp said more than 30 volunteers donated their time for MASE in order to run its four monthly meetings in Great Wyrley, Cannock, Rugeley and Haughton, with more than 250 people attending on a regular basis.
"Some volunteers are old school friends, some are past carers who have got the compassion and have dealt with the illness and have experience of dealing with people who have Alzheimer's," she said. "This award is an accolade for them really.
"We couldn't do what we do without them.
"Nobody gets paid, nobody claims any expenses, they just turn up every month with a smile and a hug, which honestly, is what these people need," she said.
"It's marvellous and we are well and truly blessed by them."
Mrs Sharp said the group received no core funding and had to find £20,000 a year through fundraising activities just to keep the group running.
Anyone who would like to get involved, either volunteering or attending at one of the regular meetings can contact Daphne on 01785 211140 or Elaine on 01785 823110.
All pictures by Sam Carpenter @samcarphotog