A South Tyneside-based Squadron has achieved a prestigious national award recognising outstanding work in the voluntary sector.
324 Air Cadets Squadron, situated in South Shields, has received the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service as part of this year's Birthday Honours, a fitting recognition coinciding with National Volunteers Week.
The award is the highest award made to a voluntary organisation and is the equivalent to an MBE individual honour.
The Mayor of South Tyneside, Councillor Norman Dick, said: "I would like send my congratulations to 324 (South Shields) Squadron Air Cadets for receiving the Queen's Award. It is a marvellous achievement, extremely well deserved and a great honour for the Squadron.
"We have a long history with them as the Mayor's cadet belongs to the 324 Squadron. It's wonderful to see the organisation's efforts, commitment and enthusiasm being celebrated in this way.
"Well done to all involved, this a fantastic accomplishment."
The 324 (South Shields) Squadron was formed in 1941 and has since delivered a wide training programme for cadets aged between eight and 20. This includes offering flying and adventure training as well as giving young people the opportunity to complete their Duke of Edinburgh's Award, play sports and take part in many more activities alongside an academic programme.
The Officer Commanding at 324 (South Shields) Squadron, Flt Lt James Hughes, said: ''We were immensely proud and humbled to receive the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service. So many individuals and quiet dedication to the Squadron over so many years is encompassed in this accolade. An unmentionable amount of young people have moved on to do exceptional roles, and careers, both in the military, and civilian life.
"I hope this award highlights the work and dedication of all Staff and Cadets within the organisation as a whole, and volunteers everywhere, and encourages adults and young people to get involved. As a youth organisation, it really is one of the best-kept secrets, and we only hope to build on the award going forward''.
It is hoped that the Lord-Lieutenant of Tyne and Wear, Mrs Susan M. Winfield will present the organisation with the award later on this year.
Mrs Susan M. Winfield, said: "I am delighted that 324 (South Shields) Squadron Air Cadets have been honoured with The Queen's Award for Voluntary Service 2020, it is the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK.
"This squadron is a well organised cadet unit offering a wide range of opportunities to its cadets and whose activities are highly valued by the local community. My warmest congratulations to all those who have played a part in achieving this honour."