Buckingham Palace this week announced that Northern Lights, based on the Wirral, was to become the recipient of the Queens Award for Voluntary Services (QAVS) for 2015.
The Queen's Award for Voluntary Service is the highest award given to local volunteer groups across the UK to recognise outstanding work done in their own communities. It was created in 2002 to celebrate the anniversary of the Queen's Coronation, and is the MBE for volunteer groups.
Northern Lights, which has been awarded funding by the ScottishPower Foundation for a second year, raises funds to give children with life limiting illnesses the unique experience of a very special holiday they will never forget. Every December, the charity takes a group of children, aged between 6 and 11, on a 5-day holiday to the Arctic Circle in Finnish Lapland to meet Father Christmas. In September 2014, Northern Lights was presented with the Innovation Award at the inaugural ScottishPower Foundation Awards; receiving an additional £7,500 funding to further enhance the hugely valuable services that it provides.
The charity was nominated for its volunteer work in the community since its founding 28 years ago and was assessed by the Lord-Lieutenant of Cheshire representatives on the benefit the charity brings to the local community and its standing within that community.
Alan Johnson, Secretary and father of Christopher whom the charity was set up in memory of, commented: “The holidays provided by Northern Lights give the children an opportunity to forget, albeit for a short while, about their health problems. It’s great to watch their faces light up with pleasure as they are being whisked along on sleds pulled by huskies, driven around on snowmobiles, pulled in sleds by reindeer, tobogganing and being presented with presents by the ‘real’ Santa. Something about the time spent in Lapland seems to give them renewed strength to carry on fighting their own particular illnesses. Consultants often ask “what do you do whilst in Lapland?” because the children often come back more confident and independent. In truth, we do not know, but these holidays seem to provide a useful component in the treatment of these awful illnesses and as a charity we are very proud to have played a small part in this role and delighted to have been awarded the QAVS.”
Karen Jones, Chairman and founding member of Northern Lights, said: “We are honoured and delighted to have been acknowledged for our work within the local community benefitting children with life limiting illnesses in the North West of England. When the charity was founded in 1987 (as the Christopher Johnson Fund), we had no idea that nearly 30 years later we would still be sending children with life limiting illnesses on these wonderful holidays. I would like to thank the committee members of Northern Lights both past and present for their tireless work in raising funds and for all the support we have received from everyone in Neston and the local community together with all our supporters countywide.”