A READING theatre has won the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service this year.

Progress Theatre has won the prestigious award which aims to recognise outstanding work by volunteer groups to benefit their local communities.

It was created in 2002 to celebrate The Queen’s Golden Jubilee.

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This award, equivalent to an MBE, is the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK.

Recipients are announced each year on June 2, the anniversary of The Queen’s Coronation.

This years’ winners include the Progress Theatre which has been in existence for more than 70 years promoting the cultural and educational wellbeing of the public in Reading and elsewhere in the performing arts.

Although its members are passionate about amateur theatre, the group actively seeks to connect much more widely with the community, especially with the disadvantaged.

Volunteers at Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust which is the Mental and Community Health provider for Berkshire have also won the award.

Through its 180+ volunteers it transforms the lives of its service users in innovative ways, particularly in Mental Health, which helps clients to resume their former lives with their families and the community.

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It is intended for representatives of these groups to receive their award from Mr James Puxley, Lord Lieutenant of the Royal County of Berkshire, later this year.

Two volunteers from each group will also be invited to attend a garden party at Buckingham Palace in 2021, along with other recipients of this year’s Award.

Mr Puxley said: “I am delighted that these groups have been recognised as being

outstanding and worthy of this prestigious Award.

“During our assessment visit we were impressed by their commitment to their own work and to the wider community.

“I very much hope that Berkshire will see many more excellent groups nominated for this Award in future years.”

The number of nominations has increased year on year since the awards were introduced in 2002.

Berkshire has received 74 winners since 2002.