A young choir leader who gives up her spare time to coach for addicts has picked up a prestigious award from the Prime Minister.
Lee-Ann Gardner, leader of Durham Voices of Recovery Choir, has been involved in the community group since it started in 2012.
It is made up of individuals in recovery from addiction, as well parents and friends brought together by music to inspire others to keep clean and think positively.
Lee-Ann’s dedication and enthusiasm has helped the group grow from four to 17 members.
And now the 23-year-old has been presented with the Prime Minister’s Point of Light award, which recognises outstanding volunteers who are making a change in their community and inspiring others.
David Cameron said: “Lee-Ann is using her talent for singing to support people in her community in need of some extra help.
“Her selfless volunteering is benefiting the lives of people recovering from drug addiction and their friends and families too. I’m delighted to award Lee-Ann with a Point of Light.”
As well as leading weekly rehearsals, Lee-Ann uses her contacts in the music industry to donate musical pieces, equipment and studio time for the choir.
The group has performed across the North East including a concert at Durham Cathedral and is recording a charity CD.
Lee-Ann is working with the choir to write and record songs inspired by their journeys through recovery, and the album will be released later in the year with all proceeds going to rehabilitation charities.
She said: “I am completely humbled and touched by the kindness Dot and all of the other choir members have shown me.
“Helping people to believe in their voice is my passion and I feel lucky to teach the choir to find their voice, and to know that singing inspires them as a much as their friendship inspires me.”
Sharon Hodgson, MP for Washington and Sunderland West, said: “It’s great to see Lee-Ann and the Durham Voices of Recovery Choir receive this award.
“Her hard work, combined with the power of music, is making a real difference to the lives of the choir members, as well as helping to challenge the stereotypes and stigma that surround addiction.
“I hope that this recognition attracts more members and support for this valuable project, so that it can carry on making a difference for years to come.”