Last week was Volunteers’ Week, an annual campaign now in its 35th year that recognises the incredible contribution thousands of volunteers make to communities each and every day.

We are fortunate here in East Hampshire to have hundreds of people involved in a host of different groups and initiatives, each looking to help improve the lives of others locally.

The range of local charities and community groups is vast – if you have an interest in any particular field, sector or hobby, you’re very likely to find a group of like-minded people who are already working together.

I am constantly impressed by the generosity and dedication shown by so many volunteers across East Hampshire; individuals who step forward to offer their time, energy and commitment to a whole range of different causes.

At the recent Walk for Peace event hosted by East Hampshire District Council and the Ahmadiyya Muslim Elders Association, the sense of shared purpose was clear to see, with more than 250 people taking part in the sponsored walk at Bordon’s Hogmoor Inclosure.

The annual event raises thousands for local charities, including a record number who will benefit from the fundraising this year.

Just as with the Alton Society’s spring litter pick, it was great to see so many volunteers for the Petersfield Society’s Jubilee Clean Up event last weekend, organised ahead of the celebrations taking place across the town this week. And there will be thousands more volunteers taking part in local and national Jubilee events, helping people to share a unique moment in our history.

Local civic groups and charities underpin our communities. They take a lead on many local initiatives that help to improve local life for all, and bring people together to share in that ambition.

Whether it is support for people living with dementia, programmes to encourage people to cycle or walk more, events to celebrate our local history, providing hospice care at home, or initiatives to address our local impact on the environment, it is individuals who make it possible, inspiring others to take action.

And, of course, there are hundreds more who turn up each week to help with local sports clubs and youth groups, and many others who give their time as school governors and local councillors. The list goes on and on.

The theme for Volunteers’ Week this year is A time to say thanks, which seems particularly relevant given the role volunteers have played throughout the pandemic.

We know volunteers were central in responding to the challenges of Covid. They came forward in their thousands to support people across their local communities, and also to take part in national schemes such as the vaccination and booster programmes.

Through the many local engagements I am fortunate to attend, I meet some extraordinary people, doing some extraordinary things, and I would like to pay tribute to each and every one of them.

Tomorrow, the recipients for this year’s Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service will be announced.

The highest award given to volunteer groups across the UK, it recognises exceptional work done by volunteer groups in their communities.

There is still time to put forward nominations for next year, and more details are available at