With the grace of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and Guruhari Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the UK’s  has been announced as one of 95 volunteering groups from across the country winning this year’s Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. The Award recognises the outstanding contributions made to local communities by groups voluntarily devoting their time for the benefit of others.

The prestigious national honour, equivalent to the MBE order (Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire), sets the national benchmark for excellence in volunteering with the activities of awardees judged as being of the very highest standard.

The Bal-Balika Mandal, which has been serving in the UK for over 30 years, received the Award for its exceptional community work of integrating value-based educational, social, environmental and recreational activities into one cohesive programme and successfully implementing it through a team of hundreds of dedicated volunteers. The programme aims to help children of today mature into responsible British citizens of tomorrow.

Winners of this year’s Award were selected from 406 groups nominated by members of the public who have been helped personally or witnessed the benefits of a group’s work in their community.

BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, UK, will receive a certificate signed by the Queen and an exclusive commemorative crystal. These will be presented by Her Majesty’s representative for Greater London, Sir David Brewer, at a special ceremony arranged by the Lieutenancy Office. Group representatives have also received an invitation to a Royal Garden Party event at Buckingham Palace in the summer.

Speaking of their success, Devan Parekh, lead volunteer for children’s activities in the UK, said, “Children and young people are at the heart of our organisation and it is a great honour and immensely humbling to receive this prestigious award for the hundreds of dedicated volunteers who are committed to nurturing leaders and better citizens of tomorrow.”

The Award is overseen by the Office of the Third Sector, in the Cabinet Office. Kevin Brennan, Minister for the Third Sector, said, “Volunteering binds communities together and builds a stronger and kinder society. Often these unsung heroes go about their work without much recognition, that’s why I’m particularly pleased to see their efforts recognised and rewarded by the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.”

The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service was created by Her Majesty to mark the occasion of her Golden Jubilee in 2002. For further details of the Award, visit www.queensawardvoluntary.gov.uk.

Reports of recent activities involving UK balaks and balikas can be found at the links below:

* Substance Abuse Workshop for Children & Parents
* National Children’s Conference
* Children with BAPS Community Care Team Visit Elderly Residential Care Homes in London
* Anti-Bullying Workshop for Children
* BAPS volunteers set new world record at Brent Respect Festival for world’s largest finger painting: 16,400 square feet
* Andy Akinwolere – Blue Peter Presenter launches Blue Peter ‘Shoebiz Appeal

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