THE Swindon branch of a nationwide charity that supports people with Parkinson’s has been honoured with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.

The local Parkinson’s UK team members are overjoyed because this is the highest honour that a voluntary group in the UK can receive.

Swindon and district branch chair Dave Logan and his wife Daphne attended the Queen’s Garden Party at Buckingham Palace last week along with the 281 other award recipients from around the country.

Mr Logan said: “I am honoured and delighted that the group’s valuable work to support those affected by Parkinson’s in the Swindon area has been recognised.

“This prestigious award pays tribute to the hard work and commitment of our branch’s committee and other volunteers, all of whom have Parkinson’s themselves or are carers of those who have Parkinson’s.

“Our aim is to ensure that no one has to face Parkinson’s alone”

Charity representatives will receive their award from Lord Lieutenant of Wiltshire Sarah Troughton on July 17.

The branch has supported people affected by Parkinson’s in the Swindon area for more than 41 years. Its volunteers provide three important services which are recommended by Parkinson’s consultants to keep those with the condition mentally, socially and physically active.

Firstly, for physical fitness, the team works with Great Western Hospital's Swindon Parkinson's Services physiotherapists to organise a free five-day exercise programme that can help delay the degenerative process of Parkinson's by protecting the dying dopamine-producing brain cells.

This programme includes walking football on Mondays, followed by a Tai Chi class and a seated class for those who have difficulty standing on Tuesdays, two balance and exercise classes on Wednesdays, a second Tai Chi class alongside people with MS on Thursdays, and a dance class on Fridays.

Secondly, the branch offers a free respite service to support carers and give them a break from their round-the-clock duties with a bit of free time for quizzes, games, bowling, talks and outings, and a monthly coffee morning.

Lastly, the branch campaigns on behalf of those affected with the condition, with support from local MPs. Their efforts have led to the introduction of a new self-medication procedure which is currently being trialled at GWH.

The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service aims to recognise outstanding work by volunteer groups to benefit their local communities. The Swindon and district Parkinson's UK charity is amongst good company in this year's crop of winners, which include volunteers helping people overcome mental health problems through sport, volunteers using caravans as mobile cafes and information centres in geographically remote locations and a group mentoring children who have a parent in prison.