VOLUNTEERS from across the Forest were recognised for their contributions to community life with the first ever awards from Forest Voluntary Action Forum (FVAF) recently.

Yvonne Wood, volunteer manager for the Forest Foodbanks in Cinderford, Lydney and Coleford won the Volunteer of the Year award, Sixteen Community Café in Coleford collected the Business in the Community award and Forest of Dean Baby Bank were named Voluntary Group of the Year.

FVAF manager Chris Brown said: “We are the volunteer centre for the Forest of Dean and help to recruit over 500 volunteers each year to keep our communities thriving with activity.

“Last year this equated to a massive £353,808 worth of volunteer time. To celebrate this amazing contribution, FVAF took the opportunity to launch its first awards specifically for volunteering in the Forest.

“The goodwill of these individuals, groups and businesses during difficult times is what makes the Forest of Dean so special and the least we can do is to recognise and thank those who give up their precious time to make our communities a better place to live.”

“We had over 50 nominations, some very touching tributes and 1,905 votes.”

Upon receiving her award, Yvonne said: “Our 60 volunteers are absolutely ace; they give me support whenever I need it and without them the Forest Foodbanks simply wouldn’t run, so this award is not just for me, it is for all of them - they’re a great bunch of people”.

Yvette Farrell who has been an integral part of Sixteen Community Café, said: “We’re very, very pleased to have won this award from FVAF because we want to provide a safe haven for people from all walks of life. We are very proud of the team for being able to achieve that.”

Despite being a relatively new charity, Forest of Dean Baby Bank has quickly gained local recognition for its great work helping disadvantaged families get the supplies that they desperately need.

Founder of the charity, Nikki Neale, said: “This award is gratefully received by myself, volunteers and every person who has ever donated. Without them we would not be able to reach families and ensure ‘no child goes hungry’.

“Due to the amazing response we had for these awards in the debut year, FVAF are going to continue to work hard and ensure our community heroes are appropriately thanked,” Chris added.

If you or someone you know is interested in volunteering please contact Chris Brown on 01594 822073, [email protected] or visit www.FVAF.org.uk