A VOLUNTARY group which provides positive male role models for boys without dads has been presented with a prestigious award.

Lads Need Dads, which is based in Clacton, runs mentoring programmes for boys with absent fathers, hosting life-skills training and outdoor activities.

Last year the community interest company was awarded the Queen's Award for Voluntary Services.

The award is the highest honour a voluntary group in Britain can receive.

Lads Need Dads were presented with the award at a special ceremony in the gardens of the Lord Lieutenant of Essex, Jennifer Tolhurst.

Sonia Shaljean, founder of Lads Need Dads, said: "To receive this award is such an honour.

"I am immensely proud to lead a team of volunteers who are dedicated to their roles and Lads Need Dads cause.

"I would like to extend my sincere thanks to the many volunteers both past and present who have all individually contributed to us receiving this award and who have been critical in positively impacting boys’ lives and proving that positive male role models can help equip and empower boys to be the best they can be.”

The group, which works with boys aged between 11 and 15, is always looking to recruit more volunteer mentors in north Essex, including in Clacton and Colchester.

Its latest projects include a programme helping youngsters with their literacy skills in schools.

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Jennifer Tolhurst, the Lord Lieutenant and Her Majesty the Queen’s personal representative in the county of Essex, said, “Their work is exceptional in so many ways; its programme is simple, straightforward, and scalable so that it can be replicated.

"It has won so many other awards not only in Essex, but Nationally.

"Lads Need Dads is an exceptional group of people doing exceptional work by giving hope and a future to exceptional young boys”

To find out more or get involved, visit ladsneeddads.org or email info@ladsneeddads.org.