HRH the Queen's Representative in County Down



The details of the 2021 winners of the QAVS have just been announced & County Down has been very fortunate in that we have 3 winners. The Ards Peninsular 1st Responders based on the Ards Peninsular, Decorum based in Newtownards & Via Wings based in Dromore. We offer our heartiest congratulations to all 3 organisations. The competition for the award this year was of a very high standard.

Ards 1st Responders:

Click here Charity Commission Web Site

Ards Peninsular 1st Responders are an amazing collection of volunteers who respond to emergency calls across the Ards Peninsular ahead of the normal emergency services. Because of the layout of the Ards Peninsular it can take ambulances up to 40 minutes to arrive at the scene of an accident. The 1st Responders aim to arrive if possible within 5 minutes of a call & they can administer 1st aid & are trained to use CPR equipment if necessary. They provide an absolutely essential service to the local area. 


Click here for the Decorum Web site

Decorum NI (Decorum) promotes, advocates and addresses the needs of former security personnel (Army, Police Force and Prison Service) who have suffered as result of violence perpetrated during Operation Banner (1969 – 2007). This is delivered through a drop in centre and services including, counselling, welfare advice/signposting, shared heritage trips, advocacy, education & the provision of social activities.

Via Wings:

Click here for the Via Wings website

Via Wings is a very special organisation based in Dromore that offers help in just so many ways to people undergoing difficult circumstances. Their range of services always was comprehensive but as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic they have been an essential service to so many residents of Dromore, which seems like a normal country town but has pockets of poverty & deprivation which Via Wings tries to mitigate. They were absolutely instrumental to the distribution of food parcels at the start of the pandemic. They broke down the food parcels & altered & added to to the composition to make them more suitable to particular recipients.



    A group must be made up of two or more people and must provide a specific benefit in a local area. The group may be a branch of or affiliated to a larger regional or national organisation, as long as the volunteers started and developed the initiative for the activity locally, and the group's achievements go beyond what is expected of similar groups in the wider organisation's network.
    Those who benefit from the group's activities can be overseas residents or UK residents (or both) but the group must be based in a UK region or country.
    Groups may bring a direct or indirect benefit. Indirect benefit includes, for example, work to preserve the heritage or environment.
    Groups must have been operating at a high standard for at least three years.
   More than half the people who work in the group must be volunteers.
   More than half the group's volunteers must have the right of residence in the UK.
    The group satisfies requirements to safeguard children and vulnerable adults, if appropriate. These requirements may include Criminal Records Bureau checks.
    The group has public liability insurance or any other relevant insurance required for its work.
    Groups involved in fundraising activities are eligible for the Award if their fundraising activity:  Involves volunteers, focuses on creating or holding an event or local activity, rather than simply asking for donations, is to provide something that can be shown to benefit the local community.

Click Here for the Official QAVS Web site


    There was only 1 winner in County Down in 2020 & that was the Portico in Portaferry. The Portico was a Presbyterian Church built in the Greek Revival style nearly 200 years ago. The building had fallen into disrepair & the Portico Charity was founded to raise the funds & to restore this amazing building to its former glory. The Portico now runs a large number of events ranging from Church Services & weddings to classical & pop concerts & various arts exhibitions & conferences. Unfortunately, due to the Covid-19 emergency the award ceremony has been postponed until a proper ceremony can be safely organised.

Click Here for the Portico Web site