Two west Dorset-based community groups have won a very prestigious award from King Charles.

The Melplash Agricultural Society and the Burrough Harmony Centre in Bridport have been awarded the King’s Award for Voluntary Service, the highest award a local voluntary group can receive in the UK – the equivalent to an MBE.

It recognises the work of voluntary groups that do things differently, consistently and outstandingly well.   

It was created in 2002 to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee and, following his accession, His Majesty The King emphasised his desire for it to continue. Recipients are announced annually on November 14, the King’s Birthday.  

READ: Melplash Agricultural Society scholarships announced at show

The Melplash Agricultural Society relies on hundreds of volunteers each year to help deliver the wide range of activities in order to meet their charitable objectives, which are to promote and support local agriculture and to inspire and educate young people to make it in their career.  

Society director James Vickery said: “This is such an amazing achievement. 

"We, The Melplash Agricultural Society, are delighted that the dedication, hard work and enthusiasm of all our volunteers, committee members and stewards, who work tirelessly throughout the year, has been recognised.  

"Thank you so much, this award belongs to you all.”

The Harmony drop-in group provides a friendly, welcoming, informal service to anyone struggling with their mental health and well-being.

It provides peer support, understanding and compassion to anyone who needs it, with no need for a referral or any form of health assessment.

READ: Burrough Harmony Centre in Bridport awarded £300k grant

Alison Cliffe, a trustee of the Bridport-based group, said: “We are delighted that the work our volunteers contribute to the delivery of our services has been recognised.

"Their involvement in The Burrough Harmony Centre is essential to what we do and they bring an invaluable energy and commitment to this vital community mental health and wellbeing hub.”

Harmony’s work is only possible thanks to the input of its 11 volunteers and seven volunteer trustees, working alongside staff, and across any given year the charity supports up to 200 people.

One of the Harmony Drop-in volunteers explained why they find it rewarding to volunteer: “I decided to volunteer to build my confidence and experience, so I approached Harmony and was then taken on as a volunteer in the Drop-in Service and its allotment.

"It’s a good feeling being able to give mental health support to the community.”

Representatives from both charities will receive the award crystal and certificate from Angus Campbell, Lord-Lieutenant of Dorset later in the year.

In addition, two volunteers from each organisation will attend a garden party at Buckingham Palace in May and June 2024, along with other recipients of this year’s award.