THREE Bury groups have been honoured with the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service.

Hardworking volunteers at groups in Bury, Prestwich and Whitefield are celebrating the accolade — the highest honour for volunteer groups in the UK.

The award has been given to the thriving Eden Gardens Allotment Association, the lively Bloco Ashê Bury Community Samba Group and Manchester and District Beekeepers' Association (MDBKA,), headquartered at Heaton Park, which has been promoting the art of beekeeping since 1895.

The Beekeepers' Association received high praise for advancing the understanding of beekeeping, honey bees and other pollinating insects for the public benefit.

Lena Crowe, president of MDBKA, said: "We are absolutely delighted to be recipients of the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service.

"It’s an enormous honour and great testament to the many hours of dedication our volunteers give to raise the awareness of how important honey bees and other pollinating insects are to our environment and ultimately our food chain."

The group's 70 volunteers carry out many activities including engaging with people at the Association's visitor centre — Dower House in Prestwich's Heaton Park — and looking after the group's apiary which contains colonies of honey bees.

They also help to maintain a garden planted especially for pollinating insects.

Lena and her husband David attended a garden party at Buckingham Palace on May 21, along with other recipients of this year’s QAVS.

MDBKA will receive the award from Warren James Smith, Lord Lieutenant of Greater Manchester, later this summer.

The association was congratulated by Heaton Park and Hall, who posted on Facebook: "A HUGE congratulations to our wonderful Manchester Beekeeper’s as it’s announced they’ve been awarded The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.

"True recognition for the amazing work they do."

Eden Gardens Allotments received their Queen's Award for developing an area of wasteland into an accessible community asset.

The allotments, in Derwent Avenue, Whitefield, opened in mid-2012 after Contour Homes put up the cash for a derelict patch of land to get a makeover.

Today, they consist of multiple well-groomed plots of land, bursting with fruit and vegetables.

‎Gertie Smethurst‎ shared on social media that the group is "delighted" with their award.

Sue Davies posted on Facebook: "Well, isn't this 'just the icing on the cake'. Unbeknown to us, a while ago, we were nominated by the former Mayor of Bury, Dorothy Gunther, for the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service. This really is something special, equivalent to an MBE.

"Over the past six years we have developed our allotments from rough, unloved ground into an attractive resource enjoyed by the community.

"Most importantly, we have received the award for our voluntary work involving every aspect of the local community including schools, play groups and children with challenging backgrounds.

"I can only say, congratulations and thank you. Well done Eden Gardens Allotment."

Two of the group's members attended the Queen's garden party at Buckingham Palace on May 21.

They will receive their award during a ceremony in August, when they will be given a diploma signed by Queen and a cut glass momento.

The third Bury group to receive the national recognition is Bloco Ashê Bury Community Samba Group, for engaging with local communities and enhancing their wellbeing through music.

Musicians rehearse at St Francis House, All Saints Church, every Saturday.

During the summer months, the percussionists, young and old, perform their music and provide a lively atmosphere at many of the region's events.

Most recently, they performed their samba-influenced beats from Brazil, Cuba and Africa as part of Radcliffe Carnival last Saturday, and were in full swing at Prestwich Summer Festival on Sunday.

These three groups at the heart of the Bury community, were among a record number of 281 voluntary bodies to receive the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service this year.