CROYDON COLLEGE has been recognised by the Queen for its outstanding volunteer work. It has become the first college in the country to receive the Queen's Award for Volunteering, the equivalent of an MBE. More than 1,500 of its students volunteered for 18,000 hours last year, campaigning, fundraising, and representing young people at the UN. Frances Wadsworth, the college's principal and CEO, said the college was "very proud" and praised head of student life Di Layzelle for creating a thriving volunteer culture. She said: "Volunteering supports our community and improves students' awareness of others' needs, but we recognise it develops valuable employability skills too. "Student volunteering at Croydon College is on a remarkable, laudable and significant scale, led by an inspirational manager, Di Layzelle. "I am incredibly proud of the work that Di has achieved with our students and the scope and levels of the support they have delivered to benefit others. She added: "The Queen's Award for Volunteers is a wonderful recognition of exceptional work and we are very proud to receive it." A-level student Ryan Raghoo, 17, has volunteered for UNICEF with the college and said: "Through my work with UNICEF I have been involved with national and international campaigns; I have been given the chance to go and teach human rights in Denmark. "I would encourage everybody to volunteer, it is a precious opportunity to develop as an individual." Fellow A-level student Amethyst Low, 19, said she considered herself "lucky" to have volunteering opportunities, adding: "I recommend that every young person does some form of volunteering; it can be so beneficial on both a social and mental level." Ms Layzelle, who has been at the school for 25 years and developed opportunities with UNICEF and a Volunteer Pledge Award, deemed her work with students "exhilarating" and "rewarding". She added: "It should never be underestimated how much young people can achieve." In Park Lane, central Croydon, Croydon College has 8,000 students studying a huge range of subjects. Nominees for the prestigious award are looked at first by local assesment panels, which decide which to send to a national committee. The committee then makes recommendations to the Cabinet Office, which sends a final list to the Queen for approval.
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