Essex County Council has been presented with a special Duke of Edinburgh award, after their participants clocked up more than 23,000 hours of volunteering time in one year.
The figure, which equates to more than two and a half years and is valued at almost £86,000, is among the highest in the country and was accumulated by young people who carried out a variety of activities in their communities.
The award was presented at Tuesday’s full council meeting, with volunteers lauded by councillors for their commitment to their areas.
Cllr Ray Gooding, Essex County Council Cabinet Member for Education and Lifelong Learning, said: “I am very proud to be associated with such a hardworking county, filled with young people willing to give up their time to benefit others.
“The Duke of Edinburgh Award continues to be successful in offering volunteers the chance to build confidence at a key time in their development – while making a positive impact on other people’s lives.
“I would like to congratulate everyone involved in this incredible effort and encourage anyone considering participating in future to do so.”
Now in its 60th year, the Duke of Edinburgh (D of E) award sees young people carry out tasks including working with the elderly, sprucing up gardens and public spaces and assisting local youth groups as part of an extra-curricular qualification.
84 per cent of D of E participants say they feel the award helped them to work better in a team - including 16-year-old Ellis from Brentwood, who has recently started volunteering at a local Cubs group as part of his gold award.
Ellis said: “The award has helped me to understand that some people are not as lucky as I am. I felt very proud to be a positive role model and to give back to my community.”