Two groups operating in the area have been honoured with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.

Fivemiletown United Football Club and Omagh and Fermanagh RAF Air Cadets have both been honoured with the prestigious award during National Volunteer’s Week.

The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service (QAVS) is the highest award given to local volunteer groups across the UK. It was created in 2002 to celebrate the anniversary of The Queen’s Coronation, is thought of as ‘the MBE for volunteer groups’, and is awarded for life.

The prestigious award is presented to outstanding groups of volunteers whose level of initiative and impact are truly exceptional.

Each group is assessed on the benefit it brings to the local community and its standing within that community. Volunteers are expected to be leading its work.

Speaking on receiving the award, Fivemiletown United Football Club’s Chairman, Davy McQuigg, said: “In the day to day running of things, it will not change much, but overall it is a great recognition of all of those involved with the club who have worked so hard over the years. It is testament to the good work they have done over the years.

“We have been recognised by the IFA a couple of times for good policies and good procedures, and have received their Gold Award.

“The club can trace their roots to 1896 and has links to Colonel Hugh Montgomery, whose descendants – the Lowry family – are still involved with the club.”

The club currently has 250 members across 10 teams playing at all age levels, including a popular Mini Soccer section.

Speaking on the club’s ethos, Davy said: “We are a completely cross-community body. We welcome kids of all abilities – they don’t necessarily need to be the next Ronaldo or George Best or the next Roy Carroll, whom we had in our books at one time.”

Davy thanked all of the unseen volunteers who help with the running of the club. He said: “The guys who are doing the shovel work as such, the guys who look after the pitch, the Treasurer, and all the guys who paint goal posts and fence posts, for all those people who do the unseen work, I’d like to give them a big thank-you.

He added: “And a big thank-you to the people who come down and support our teams when they are playing.”

Also honoured with The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service was 72 (Omagh) Squadron RAF Air Cadets – a group of volunteers based at St Lucia Barracks, Omagh, who cover the Omagh and Fermanagh District.

The Royal Air Force Air Cadets (RAFAC) is a volunteer-military youth organisation sponsored by the Royal Air Force. 72 Squadron currently has six adult volunteer staff and 20 Cadets.

Representatives of 72 (Omagh) Squadron will receive the award crystal and certificate from Robert Scott OBE, Lord-Lieutenant of County Tyrone, later this summer.

‘Fantastic award’

Flying Officer Conchubhar McHugh, Officer Commanding 72 Squadron, welcomed the award, saying: “I am delighted that the voluntary and community work of 72 Squadron has been recognised at the highest national level by this fantastic award from Her Majesty, The Queen.

“I pay tribute to the hard work and commitment of my predecessor as Officer Commanding, Flight Lieutenant Graham Dodds, who worked tirelessly over many years to successfully develop the Squadron, and specifically to reach out to all sections of the community.

“My thanks also go to the staff and Cadets who have dedicated themselves to the Squadron, and whose loyalty to it has made it a central part of the local community, as well as a leading force in voluntary organisations.

Flight Lieutenant Graham Dodds, Regional Media Communications Officer for Scotland and Northern Ireland Region, who was the former Officer Commanding for the Squadron, welcomed the top award.

He said: “I am delighted that Omagh Squadron’s focus and passion for improving the local community, as well as local and cross-Border relations, has been recognised and rewarded by this exceptional honour.”