Daventry Area Community Transport received its Royal award at a special ceremony yesterday.
More than 170 people were in the Saxon Suite at the leisure centre to see the Lord Lieutenant of Northamptonshire, David Laing, hand over The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service to chief executive of DACT Rob Kinning on stage, flanked by three volunteers.
The Daventry charity was nominated for the award late last year by former chairman of Daventry District Council Chris Long, and this was seconded by leader of the council Chris Millar and Glenda Simmonds, the Mayor of Daventry Town Council.
“It’s given me so much pride in our volunteers, who we are already proud of," said Rob.
"What it’s done is given that recognition on a much wider scale. When you get recognised at Her Majesty's level that’s quite something. And this is not an award that’s easily given out.
"From the reaction from volunteers in the office since they’ve heard about it, you can see that it’s made such a fantastic difference for them and they are so proud to have won this award because it’s about them.”
Watch DACT volunteers receive their award here.
DACT plays a crucial role in the district, helping those who do not have access to transport methods get to important appointments, be it in Northamptonshire or further away.
During the ceremony, the crowd heard stories from volunteers, each with their own tale of what DACT meant to or had done for them.
One spoke of how the charity had averted him taking his own life. After feeling suicidal he sat down with Rob for a chat and from there he joined the team as a driver. He said DACT had saved his life.
Another volunteer said that working in the charity's mobility shop had helped her overcome the passing of her husband, who himself had volunteered with DACT.
"It's a two-way benefit," said Rob.
"It’s not just the benefit to the passenger, the volunteers themselves also get many benefits.”
The charity's slogan is 'for the community, by the community' and accurately sums up exactly what the charity is. As well as driving people to their appointments and taking them on special days out, DACT volunteers often act as carers to their passengers, and this social service aspect is one of the reasons they were nominated for the award by Chris Long.
He said: "The underlying thing which nobody talks about effectively is the social service they provide.
“Some of the more senior citizens who live in some of the villages are isolated, very often it’s the DACT driver who might see them once a week who actually is their social contact with the world.
"It's not part of the DACT remit but it's the unsung part that means so much."
He added: “In today’s troubled world that we live in, to find people who still have compassion for others actually goes a long way."