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Prestigious royal award to be given to 16 NI volunteer groups

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Winning groups will receive their awards this summer, with two members also invited to a royal garden party at Buckingham Palace in May next year. (Nick Ansell/PA)

Winning groups will receive their awards this summer, with two members also invited to a royal garden party at Buckingham Palace in May next year. (Nick Ansell/PA)

PA Archive/PA Images

Winning groups will receive their awards this summer, with two members also invited to a royal garden party at Buckingham Palace in May next year. (Nick Ansell/PA)

A total of 16 volunteer groups in Northern Ireland will receive a prestigious national award for their services to the community.

The Queen's Award for Voluntary Service is the highest possible award that voluntary groups can receive in the UK.

Winning groups will receive their awards this summer, with two members also invited to a royal garden party at Buckingham Palace in May next year.

In Northern Ireland, this year's winners include a community group in Eglinton who supported residents when their homes were destroyed by flooding, a brass band in Omagh, and two branches of The Royal British Legion.

With a team of 50 volunteers, Eglinton Community Limited has worked for 22 years to enhance the lives of village residents.

Their efforts to provide support after the flooding in 2017 saw the group receive a citation from the Queen and a visit of support from the Prince of Wales.

In Omagh, St Eugene's Band was established in 1884 to provide music at public events, with volunteers practising together every week.

In rural Co Tyrone, Camphill Clanabogan provides a shared living area for adults with learning disabilities.

The organisation Camphill was first established 80 years ago in Scotland, and now has 100 centres around the world.

The sustainable village community in Clanabogan is a permanent home to 50 people, with 40 staff members and 15 young volunteers who come every year.

In Londonderry, The Royal British Legion's Waterside branch received the award for supporting veterans and families in their community.

With over 500 members, the Waterside branch provides education and support on a cross-community basis and helped to raise £33,000 for the Poppy Appeal last year.

Three organisations in Co Antrim won the award this year: Coaching for Christ in Ahoghill, the Mae Murray Foundation in Larne, and the Ballymoney Branch of The Royal British Legion.

The Portico of Ards group was recognised for helping to raise £1.6m to restore Portaferry Presbyterian Church as an arts and heritage centre.

In Belfast, the Conservation Volunteers group helps to bring people together to create, improve and care for local green spaces.

Operations leader Helen Tomb said the group was "absolutely thrilled" with the honour.

Belfast Telegraph