THE work of a volunteering group described as “exceptional in every respect” has been recognised with the country’s highest honour.

The North Wiltshire Group of the MND Association landed the Queen’s Award thanks to 30 years of service in Swindon and the surrounding area.

It raises funds to support those living with and affected by motor neurone disease, providing emotional support, practical help, regular visits and information signposting.

In the last year alone more than 50 families have benefited from the group’s work.

Testimonials were provided by a number of health and social care professionals, including Anita Sinclair, the clinical lead, neurology respiratory specialist with Wiltshire Health and Care.

She said: “Their support and dedication to patients and clinicians has been outstanding and it is done with such dedication, integrity and compassion. This is a well-established group that proudly celebrates its 30th year next month which is a real achievement for a group purely run by volunteers.”

Dr Graham Lennox, a consultant neurologist in Swindon and Oxford, also supported the nomination.

He said: “I am delighted that the fantastic work of the local MND Association has been recognised in this way.

“They are exceptional in every respect. Together they provide regular visits for people with MND and their families, providing information, emotional support and practical help.

“All of this is of enormous day-to-day benefit to local patients, who often comment to me that they do not think that they could have coped with their illness without this support.”

Group leader Alison Aviss and secretary Barbara Crook were invited to a garden party at Buckingham Palace on May 21.

Alison said: “It is such an honour to receive this award and on behalf of the group I feel immensely proud and humbled in equal measure. It is a privilege to work with families that are affected by MND and represent the association in our area.

“Our team are an amazing group of people who share a passion to provide support, understanding and practical help wherever we can.”

The group is one of 89 MND Association branches and groups across the country and its work involves campaigning for better services and providing financial support grants. Swindon Borough and Wiltshire County councils, together with the North East Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group, have adopted the MND Charter, which helps positively influence the lives of people living with the condition and their carers.

The group led on the creation of a specialist physiotherapy post to provide a co-ordinated approach to complex care needs after supporting someone through repeated delays in accessing essential equipment. After positive patient feedback, the post has been made permanent and is now fully funded by the NHS.

Chris Wade, MND Association’s director of engagement said: “We are all extremely proud of the North Wiltshire Group and the recognition they have received for the vital work they do. Having this support in the community means that those living with and affected by MND have somewhere they can go to for help and support, whether it be a more complex care need or just a chat over a cup of tea.

"Knowing someone is there to listen makes a huge difference to people’s quality of life.”

To find out more about how you can volunteer for the MND Association go to

For more information about MND and the MND Association please visit