Sports Driving Unlimited, a voluntary group based in Lockerbie, has been honoured with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK.

For the past 13 years, Sports Driving Unlimited (SDU) has provided opportunities for disabled people of all ages to enjoy the benefits of pony carriage driving. It provides a safe environment for children, young people and adults who have a disability, menta or behavioural difficulties or a terminal illness, to drive a pony and carriage with all the therapeutic benefits, fun and excitement that comes with the experience. It offers regular carriage driving lessons, and organises competitions, with some disabled drivers participating in regional and national driving events.

The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service aims to recognise outstanding work by volunteer groups to benefit their local communities. Recipients are announced each year on 2nd June, the anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation.

Sports Driving Unlimited’s chairperson, Brenda Hodgson, described the award as a great honour for everyone involved: “We are so proud of the tireless work our volunteers do to raise money, to look after the ponies and equipment, to organise events – everything that allows us to continue with our activities. We can see the difference these make to people’s lives but to have them recognised in this way issimply wonderful. It’s a tribute to the hard work of everyone involved and a wonderful morale-booster!”

These are tough times for the voluntary sector, says Brenda Hodgson: “Not only has the lock down had an effect on all charities’ ability to raise funds, but our drivers are those for whom social isolation is a real problem and the coronavirus is a real threat. It may be some time before they able to venture out again. I hope the news of this award gives them all a lift.”

Representatives of Sports Driving Unlimited will receive the award from Fiona Armstrong, Lord Lieutenant of Dumfries later this summer. Furthermore, two volunteers from Sports Driving Unlimited will attend a garden party at Holyroodhouse in July 2021, along with other recipients of this year’s Award.