The Duchess of Northumberland hosted a special garden party this afternoon to thank the county’s carers and volunteers.
The event was laid on by The Duchess, in her role as Lord Lieutenant of Northumberland, to recognise the valuable contribution that volunteers and carers make to the local community.
The event took place at The Alnwick Garden and 300 volunteers and carers from across the county were invited to attend with their partners or a guest. Now in its third year, the event is thought to be the biggest of its kind in the region.
BBC Look North presenter Carol Malia, who is a Deputy Lieutenant of Northumberland, gave a welcome speech, while entertainment was provided from the Alnwick Playhouse Concert Band, Male Voice Choir and the Duchess's Community High School.
The Duchess said: "I hear so many moving stories of the things people do, for the benefit of others less fortunate, some working for charities, many just doing their own thing, frequently unnoticed, giving help where it is needed most.
“The North East has more volunteers and carers than any other region in the UK. I think this is partly because we have come to accept that we are a long way from the more affluent south and that if we don’t change things ourselves and try to make a difference, then it may not happen. This is our way of thanking people for all the valuable work they do.
“The garden party has been sponsored through generous donations from businesses based in the North East who want to join me in thanking our volunteers and carers and I, in turn, would like to thank all the donors who enable the garden party to take place.”
The event could not take place without the significant support of a number of sponsors. Greggs supplied the food, while Ramside supplied the catering equipment and staff. Other sponsors include: The Barbour Foundation; Wyevale Garden Centres; Ringtons; Justerini and Brooks; Potts Print (UK) Ltd; Sir Robert McAlpine; Sodexo; The W A Handley Trust; Ward Hadaway Solicitors.
Fittingly, the event followed on the back of National Carers Week 2016, which ran from June 6 to 12, and aims to raise awareness of the UK's six million unpaid carers, as well as celebrating the incredible contribution they make.
During the afternoon, the Duchess presented, on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen, The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service (QAVS) to Humshaugh Village Shop for its outstanding contribution to the community after villagers came together to save their shop and post office from closure.
The shop, which is now run completely by volunteers, donates its profits to other projects in the area and has become a central hub for the whole community. The QAVS is the highest award given to volunteer groups across the UK for outstanding work done in their local communities.