TRANSFORMATIVE groups across Bury and Radcliffe have been hailed with a prestigious Queen's Award for Voluntary Service.

Recipients Annabelle's Challenge is one of five organisations across the borough to celebrate receiving the accolade — which is equivalent to an MBE and is the highest award that can be made to a voluntary group.

Charity founders Jared and Sarah Griffin were among those who were invited to a royal garden party at Buckingham Palace.

Mr Griffin said: "We are so proud to receive the Queen’s Award on behalf of all our volunteers who support the important work we do for patients and families touched by vascular EDS.

"Receiving this award is a real morale booster recognising the work of the volunteers."

He added: "Our invitation to Buckingham Palace was a once in a lifetime experience.

"We got to walk around the gardens, enjoy afternoon tea, mingle with other guests, and see the royal family up close.

"It was a really nice sunny day in London, and it was an honour to be at the palace.

"To receive the award within five years of setting up the charity is amazing.

"We would like to say a huge thank you to all our volunteers for the hard work they put in to fundraise for us."

Annabelle's Challenge was set up in 2013 to support patients and their families who are affected by Vascular Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS), a life-threatening connective tissue disorder.

The charity, which was nominated for the Queen's Award by Karan Lee, works closely with the EDS Diagnostic Service and is looking to expand into research.

Dr Glenda Sobey, clinical lead for the NHS EDS Diagnostic Service said: "The fact that Annabelle's diagnosis led to you and your family establishing this charity specifically for vascular Ehlers Danlos syndrome has been a wonderful benefit for all patients with vascular EDS and their families."

Redeeming Our Communities (ROC), which has a Radcliffe hub, was also bestowed with the Queen's Award, for working to bring people together to address community needs, building safer and

kind communities.

Founding director Debra Green OBE said: "We are delighted that our work and our volunteers have been recognised by the Queen.

"They do amazing work serving local communities. Often volunteers go unrewarded and we are so pleased that they are being appreciated in this way."

Mrs Green, the director of ROC, and her daughter Sarah Mhlanga, who runs the ROC School of Dance attended the garden party at Buckingham Palace on May 15.

ROC has around 800 volunteers working on projects around the UK, including at its ROC Centre in Radcliffe.

Les and Barbara Hartwell, from Radcliffe, have been volunteering for ROC for the last five years.

Volunteer Sheena Ruston, from Bury, has coordinated the ROC Restore project, which brings together victims and perpetrators of low-level crime and anti-social behaviour in a setting with trained volunteers who help to restore and repair situations.

Another beneficiary of the Queen's Award in Bury include the New Springs Community Project Group (NSCPG), which was formed in 2000 by a group of mums on the Springs estate in Redvales with the aim of providing events and activities for residents.

RE>BUILD Bury, who provide affordable furniture and skills to people living in disadvantaged situations, is also celebrating the achievement.

Organisers said on social media: "We are pleased that the valuable work we do across the borough of Bury in terms of providing quality volunteering and work experience placements, providing affordable furniture for local tenants and helping the environment by diverting reusable resources from landfill, has been recognised.

"We would like to thank all those past and current Trustees, staff, volunteers and partners who have contributed towards us receiving this award."

Bury-based SuperJosh charity was also given the royal seal of approval.

Representatives and volunteers from the five charities will attend a formal presentation at The Monastery in Manchester along with the mayors of the 10 boroughs of Greater Manchester. The awards will be presented by the Lord-Lieutenant and the Vice Lord-Lieutenant on Wednesday, August 29.

A record 250 voluntary groups across the UK received a Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service for their work in their communities.