SIX volunteer groups across Sussex have been awarded the highest possible honour by the Queen.

The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service was introduced in 2002 and recognises the work these groups do to benefit their communities.

The charities and voluntary groups will attend a Buckingham Palace garden party next year.

Here, we take a look at the county’s winners

The Argus:

Bramber Bakehouse

This group in Eastbourne helps disadvantaged and trafficked women get back into the working world. The volunteers are passionate about supporting women who have been exploited, “equipping and empowering them to their journey to restoration and recovery”.

The group runs workshops teaching the women to bake – and how to become employable.

The workshops are split into two. One is led by a Great British Bake Off contestant Martha Collison, the other, in partnership with The Sophie Hayes Foundation, provides employability training. The sessions run for eight months and the group hopes to set up an internship programme soon.

Co-founder Hollin Preston said: “We’re all really excited. We’re only a group of volunteers – we had a dream to do this five or six years ago and it’s just amazing to have won a Queen’s Award.”

She said volunteering has allowed people in the town to discover strengths they never knew they had.

The Argus:

Kempton House Day Centre

This centre in Peacehaven is run by a group of volunteers.

The charity helps the wellbeing of the elderly in the community by providing support, hot meals and friendship.

It aims to stop social isolation and loneliness.

A spokeswoman said Kempton House Day Centre “feels very proud and honoured to have receive this award”.

“It means so much to us all,” she said.

The centre hosts a lunch club for the over 55s – with a meal, dessert, tea and coffee for just £5.

Bingo, snooker and exercise classes are also among the activities on offer.

The Argus:

Sussex Army Cadet Force

There are 820 cadets and 194 adult volunteers at 25 locations across the county.

The adults are avid volunteers “inspiring young people to achieve things they never thought possible”.

They are delighted to have received this recognition from the Queen.

Commandant Colonel David Steele said the award was “a wonderful acknowledgement of the hard work, commitment, professionalism and dedication of the adult volunteers of Sussex ACF, who provide unique life-skills training and challenging activities for young people throughout Sussex”.

The award will be presented to Sussex ACF by the Lord Lieutenant of West Sussex in the autumn.

The Argus:

The Fernhurst Centre

What began as an internet café in 2003 has developed into a learning centre, coffee shop, book swap and meeting place open six days a week for the benefit of all ages.

It now offers courses including computing and technology, languages, floristry, family history and eBay use. It also offers free evening talks and a place to meet friends for coffee or relax and read the papers. It is supported by a team of friendly volunteers and provides superfast broadband and information about events in Fernhurst, which is west of Petworth.

Trustee Antonia Plant said: “There is no doubt that the secret of the Fernhurst Centre’s success lies in its band of over 40 dedicated volunteers, including the tutors, managers, counter staff, administrators and trustees who give the centre its unique friendly and welcoming appeal.”

Voluntary manager Pauline Colcutt said: “Our volunteers are the backbone of the centre’s service. They come from the local community and each person brings his or her personal approach and enthusiasm to their role.”

The Argus:

Henfield Haven

This group gives support to people over 50 in need, including those with dementia.

The charity is led by volunteers and provides a wide range of wellbeing services to help people who are ill, disabled or disadvantaged.

Chairman of trustees Digby Stevenson said the honour was well justified – though it still feels “unbelievable”.

“A lot of people have come together to make it the vibrant community centre it is,” he said.

“This award is very well deserved.”

The charity’s centre is a hive of activity visited by more than 200 people who live in or near the village each week, many physically isolated by their rural location.

Its team provides a range of individual and group activities, giving people the chance to mix, relax and have fun. Transport to and from the haven is available in an accessible minibus.

The Argus:

Turning Tides

This charity helps homeless people regain independence.

Working across Worthing, Littlehampton, Horsham and East Grinstead, it provides services from drop-in centres to rehabilitation and longer term accommodation projects.

The charity started in 1991, when four local Christians took soup, blankets and sleeping bags to the seafront to help homeless people. It now has more than 100 staff and 300 volunteers.

Chief executive John Holmstrom is delighted by the award. He said: “Our charity was founded on the sheer effort, spirit and tenacity of a group of volunteers who wanted to make a real difference to those locally who had nowhere to call home.

“This award is dedicated to them and all the volunteers we have had supporting us throughout our 28 years. Their dedication, passion and selflessness continue to be invaluable.

“Even now, when the nation faces it’s biggest crisis, our volunteers have reshaped the support they offer us and our clients.”

The Argus:

Susan Pyper, the Queen’s representative, or Lord Lieutenant, for West Sussex said: “I would like to offer my warmest congratulations to the four outstanding groups in the county that have been honoured with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.

“During the assessments we were impressed by their commitment to making a positive difference to the lives of others in imaginative and creative ways.

“The award is a tremendous accolade for their activities and their success demonstrates just how important the work of volunteers is, particularly at this very challenging time, not just in West Sussex, but throughout the country.

“I sincerely hope that their achievements will encourage other volunteer groups to consider putting themselves forward for nomination for this prestigious award.”

The Argus:

Peter Field, the Queen’s representative, or Lord Lieutenant, for East Sussex, said the two East Sussex groups to have won the award were an inspiration.

Speaking about Bramber Bakehouse and Kempton House Day Centre, he said: “These are two very different organisations totally committed to supporting vulnerable individuals in our community.

“I am delighted that they have been recognised for the work that they do and I hope this will give inspiration for other groups to be nominated for the award in the future.”

Representatives of Bramber Bakehouse and Kempton House Day Centre will receive the award from Mr Field later this year.

• The coronavirus Sussex Crisis Fund has been set up to help those affected by the pandemic. The Argus’s charity and American Express have each donated £50,000 to kick-start the appeal. Grants will usually be for up to £5,000. More information is available at www.sussexgiving. To donate visit