A ceremony was held at the charity’s base on the outskirts of Sandown on 11th July where staff, volunteers and supporters were invited to celebrate the achievement.
Along with volunteers and supporters of the charity, the event was attended by Lady White, The High Sheriff, The Chairman of the Isle of Wight Council and new Patron, Charlotte Corney. There were some 250 people present and over 20 Ability Dogs and puppies in training.
Carol Court, founder of Ability Dogs 4 Young People has said:
“I can’t believe how far the charity has come in 6 years. I started Ability Dogs 4 Young People because I saw that there was a need on the Island for assistance dogs to help disabled young people and children. With the help of some willing volunteers, the charity started with one puppy, called Georgie.
“Other volunteers joined and from those humble beginnings, we now have 24 working Ability Dogs and 12 Ability Dog puppies in training. In addition, we have 10 dogs on our ‘Own Trained’ programme, of which 3 are now jacketed. Our Therapy and Team Ability Dogs between them help over 200 disabled children and youngsters a year”.
“This award is all about the contributions of our volunteers. We have volunteers who work with the puppies and the Ability Dogs, accepting them into their own homes and taking huge care and enormous amounts of time training them.
“We also have a whole band of volunteers who work behind the scenes, and we don’t overlook their contributions. They include volunteers who help in the charity shops and I would like to give a special mention to Rose and Geoff. They came on board to be puppy parents and in fact had Sheriff to start with. However, when I suggested we wanted to open a charity shop, Rose didn’t hesitate. She and Geoff have been managing 2 shops for the past 4 years as volunteers.
“We also have some lovely volunteers who help out here at the training centre with jobs like labelling collection pots, cutting up stamps, counting money and sorting milk bottle tops. Others help at fundraising events, help at talks with demo dogs who are their own pets, and much, much more. We worked out that more than 92% of our hours are given voluntarily and I think that is an under-estimate.”
Carol also thanked all the supporters as they contribute their time raising donations. Some of them have taken on challenges, such as running marathons, walking miles, or even riding a mono-cycle round the playground. Others have organised events such as raffles, quizzes or fairs. Many have put their hands in their pockets and donated.
The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service is the highest award given to volunteer groups across the UK to recognise outstanding work done in their own communities, the equivalent of an MBE for volunteer groups. Any group carrying out voluntary work that provides a social, economic or environmental service to the local community can be nominated for the award. Each group is assessed on the benefit it brings to the local community and its standing within that community.
Ability Dogs 4 Young People IoW is an Island charity which trains assistance dogs to improve the lives of physically and mentally disabled young people and children on the Isle of Wight. If you think you can help by fundraising or are interested in becoming a Puppy Parent then get in touch. Visit www.abilitydogs4yp.org.uk, email [email protected] or phone 01983 216246.