Award is music to Harmony’s ears

Bringing Life Through Music, a Scottish Borders Charity, winning The Queen's Award for Voluntary Service.
Bringing Life Through Music, a Scottish Borders Charity, winning The Queen's Award for Voluntary Service.

HARMONY, the volunteer group that brings music and song to care homes, day centres, hospitals and sheltered housing in the Borders and north Northumberland, has been awarded a Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.

Last year Harmony gave 833 free live concerts in the region, to audiences of 13,000 people in over 85 different venues, incuding a free concert every month in every care home in the Scottish Borders area. And over the last three years Harmony has provided 401 free concerts in Berwickshire and an additional 340 free concerts in Berwick.

The group has received an invitation for representatives to attend a Royal Garden Party at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in the summer, and will also be presented with a certificate signed by The Queen and an exclusive commemorative crystal, by Her Majesty’s representative in Roxburgh, Ettrick and Lauderdale, The Hon. Gerald Maitland-Carew at a special ceremony.

Speaking of their success, Violet Baillie and Jim Smith from Harmony said: “We are thrilled to have received this prestigious honour for the work that Harmony does for the frail elderly in the Scottish Borders area.”

In 2006 Harmony were winners of the New Ways Award for Best Project Working Borders Wide. The initial three-year project was funded by a grant of £58,350 from the Community Fund to deliver more than 40 concerts per month, using volunteer musicians, to elderly Borders residents. The initial pilot included an Awards for All grant from the Scottish Arts Council for £5,000, and after the success of the initial project they successfully applied to the Big Lottery Fund for a £208,082 five-year development grant in 2007.

The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service Award Committee Chair, former broadcast journalist Martyn Lewis CBE said: “Volunteer groups make such an important contribution to their communities, often without praise for the incredible job they do. In these difficult times their efforts are even more valuable. It’s a pleasure to celebrate the achievements of Harmony with The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service and give official recognition for the benefits they bring to others’ lives.”

More than 980 groups around the UK, Channel Islands and Isle of Man have now received this annual Award since it was created by Her Majesty to mark the occasion of her Golden Jubilee in 2002. Its purpose is to recognise groups of individuals who are giving their time freely for the benefit of others, and is the highest honour that can be bestowed upon groups - equivalent in status to the MBE. The award not only serves to provide recognition of volunteer groups, but also demonstrates the respect in which volunteering is held.

It recognises outstanding voluntary contributions and sets the national benchmark for excellence in volunteering, with the work of those awarded being judged to be of the highest standard.

Those receiving this year’s award were selected from 413 groups nominated by members of the public who have been helped personally or witnessed the benefits of a group’s work in their community.

For information on how to nominate a group, visit www.direct.gov.uk/qavs, where a nomination form can be downloaded.