A CHRISTCHURCH charity has received a prestigious award for its outstanding work within the community.

Macmillan Caring Locally, which is based at Christchurch Hospital supports the Macmillan Unit in providing specialist end of life care to people across Dorset and Hampshire, has been recognised with The Queen's Award for Voluntary Service.

Created in 2002, the award is the highest award given to local volunteer groups across the UK to recognise outstanding work done within the community. It is considered the equivalent of an MBE for volunteer groups and is awarded to voluntary organisations which provide social, economic or environmental service to the local community.

The Macmillan Unit supports more than 1,600 patients with life-limiting illnesses a year. Some 158 patients attended the Day Centre last year and nearly 900 patients are supported in the wider community.

Its volunteers provide vital support in roles such as patient transport, gardeners, charity shop assistants, fundraising as well as more specialist roles including community visitors and End of Life volunteers who sit with patients in the last days of life who might otherwise be alone, also providing respite and support to family members.

Macmillan Caring Locally trust secretary Neal Williams said: "We are immensely proud of our volunteers and the outstanding work they do at the Macmillan Unit and in our community. We are thrilled they are being honoured with this prestigious award which is so richly deserved, and we would like to congratulate them and thank them for the support they give our patients, our patients’ families and our staff.”

The award will be presented to the charity, whose volunteers have previously been recognised with invites to the Queen's Garden Party, by the Lord Lieutenant of Dorset on behalf of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

For more information about Macmillan Caring Locally, which is not part of the national Macmillan Cancer Support charity, visit macmillanlocal.org