AN organisation which helps disabled children in Burnley and Pendle has won a prestigious award.

The Burnley, Pendle and District Group of Salford Diocese Catholic Fellowship for the Handicapped will be presented with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service on July 16.

Chairman Mary Bibb will collect the award in Preston from the Lord-Lieutenant of Lancashire, Lord Shuttleworth KCVO.

Mary’s group, which helps almost 200 people, is one of only two in the county to be recognised on this occasion, and she said it was ‘a great privilege’ for the team to be recognised.

She said: “We keep trying to break down barriers in society. We stick to our Catholic ethos but we work with children and families from all faiths and backgrounds.

“It’s a great honour to have been given this award as there are a lot of organisations equally worthy.” The group holds regular clubs at St Mary’s RC Church, in Yorkshire Street, as well as arranging day trips and holidays for families of handicapped kids.

Mary has been involved with the group since its formation in 1970 and has been chairman since 1987. Last week she attended a garden party hosted by the Queen in Buckingham Palace along with fellow volunteers Sylvia Flanagan, Seamus McLaughlin and secretary Marie Evans.

She says the changing landscape of the voluntary sector is challenging as funding is slashed and people lead busier lives.

She added: “I’ve been trying to retire for six years but they wont let me. A lot of our volunteers are elderly and retired and there is a lack of new helpers coming through. But we have to keep going and try to keep bettering ourselves.

No particular event stands out because there are characters on every outing, but we’ve taken the kids to some great places like EuroDisney and Alton Towers.”