The charity, whose objective is to provide a safe and friendly environment in which people with a range of disabilities can swim together, said it was thrilled to have been recognised.
Established five years ago to build on the foundations laid by Ruth Parsons, who had been running a supervised swimming session for a small number of disabled swimmers for nearly 20 years, GDS director Adrian Sarchet said it was a significant moment for them.
‘For such a small charity we never thought in a million years that we would be considered,’ he said.
‘It’s all down to the amazing people we’ve ever had involved and this will be such a significant motivator in taking the charity and those who swim forward.’
Fellow director Mandy Mackelworth agreed.
‘We never thought such a small charity would be eligible for such a high honour,’ she said.
‘GDS’s receipt of The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service is well-deserved recognition of the amazing efforts of our volunteers, our swimmers, their carers and their families.
‘Together, they have created a happy and relaxed environment of inclusivity where everyone is valued and everyone is empowered.’
The charity’s volunteers are largely drawn from Guernsey’s open water swimming community and the hallmark intrepidness of this community has translated well into its pool sessions, ranging from the provision of gentle encouragement of some swimmers to the empowerment of others to set and achieve both pool and open-water swimming goals.
The charity and its volunteers have worked in partnership with Beau Sejour to promote access for all to the pool with swims every Thursday.
The partnership with the leisure centre has seen visionary usage of lifejackets to promote the independence of severely disabled swimmers, the introduction of self-propelled poolside wheelchairs and the installation of an additional hand rail into the pool.
The latest joint fundraising project with Beau Sejour is to raise £28,000 for the purchase of a revolutionary poolside lift to enable those with profound disabilities to access the pool for the first time.
Since its establishment, the charity has benefited from the complementary backgrounds of its directors Ruth Parsons, Roger Allsopp, Richard de la Rue, Mark Haggarty, Mandy Mackelworth, Patricia McDermott and Adrian Sarchet.
Its patrons are Carey Olsen LLP and the John Ramplin Charitable Trust.
. To support its latest project visit https://bit.ly/3eAYxej.