Waterways Experiences has been granted The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the highest award given to UK volunteer groups, for its work introducing disadvantaged people to the joys of boating on the Grand Union Canal.
The charity, which operates three large canal boats from a boatyard just south of Hemel, aims to promote wellbeing by providing affordable canal boat trips, particularly for the disadvantaged.
This includes special holidays for teenagers with learning difficulties or other disadvantages.
Former Dacorum mayor Bob Mclean, who nominated the charity for the award, said: “I first visited Waterways Experience during our Deputy Mayoral year 2015/2016, as part of the High Sheriff Day.
“The Mayoress and I visited again during our own mayoral year and have visited privately since too.
“We were both stunned, once again, by the enthusiasm of the volunteer base and impressed by the focus upon making available a unique experience for disabled and disadvantaged groups across the borough and beyond.
“It was that focus which so impressed us both, and led us to determine that we wished to put the organisation forward for the Queen’s Award.
“We have been privileged to be involved with them and are delighted that their efforts have been recognised in this way. The entire team should be congratulated on this fantastic achievement.”
Paul Bennett, chair of Waterways Experiences Trustees said: “We are very proud to have been granted this prestigious award. It recognises the outstanding work done by our volunteers over more than three years.
“Waterways Experiences was formed and is run entirely by volunteers, with no paid employees.
“More than 170 volunteers come from all walks of life and together rise to a huge range of different challenges associated with operating three large boats, two of which are quite elderly.
“Together they ensure that the boats are properly maintained with sufficient crew to deliver the hugely popular trips and that the essential training, finance, admin and communications functions run effectively.”