KNUTSFORD Hosts has received the highest award given to voluntary groups in the UK to mark its contribution to the community.

The innovative and successful volunteering scheme founded by Sarah Flannery was chosen for The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the equivalent of an MBE.

Sarah said: “This award is an exceptional honour for the Hosts. I am so thrilled that the work of our group has been recognised.

“It’s a fitting tribute to all the Hosts – they are so hardworking and generous with their time and fantastic ambassadors for Knutsford, who really deserve this award.”

Group chairman Sarah said the scheme’s innovation lay in its unique approach.

Knutsford Hosts was started in 2014, and supports a huge range of events, organisations and activities, including Knutsford Royal May Day, RHS Tatton, the Pumpkin Path, Christmas events, the Tatton Yule Yomp and the Knutsford Jog.

“Knutsford Hosts is a town-wide ‘bank’ of community volunteers which local events, charities and organisations can call on for support,” she said.

“More than 100 people have become Hosts, and last year alone the group contributed 3,000 hours of volunteering time.

“It’s a win-win; organisations, events and good causes thrive with an extra – or several – pair of hands and the Hosts find it very rewarding to support them.

“Many people struggle to commit to a regular minimum number of hours, but our flexible approach has really opened up community volunteering for many people.”

Sarah and fellow Knutsford Hosts representative Erica Goggins attended a garden party at Buckingham Palace last week, along with other recipients of this year’s Award.

Knutsford Hosts is one of 281 charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups to receive the prestigious award this year.y

The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service recognises outstanding work by volunteer groups to benefit their local communities.

It was created in 2002 to celebrate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee. Winners are announced each year on June 2 – the anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation.

The Knutsford Hosts will receive the award from David Briggs, the Lord Lieutenant of Cheshire, later this summer.

Knutsford Hosts Sarah & Erica