A Sussex-based search dog team has been honoured by the Queen, with the Award for Voluntary Service - the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK.
ALSAR Search Dogs Sussex was created in 2003 following the disappearance and subsequent murder of eight-year-old Sarah Payne.
The voluntary group has earned the award for helping the police search for missing and vulnerable people.
The team has 19 members that come together once a week to train ten dogs.
They are called upon 25 to 30 times a year to help the police, and provide a 24-hour, 365 days a year, on-call service.
The dogs can use their scent in lowland searches to locate a missing person, a valuable resource if someone is out of sight.
ALSAR Search Dogs Sussex chairman Steve Ball, said: “This highly prestigious award represents fantastic recognition for the many years of dedicated service given freely by members of the search and rescue dog team and our much loved search dogs who work just as hard. We train for literally hundreds of hours both day and night to provide Sussex with a professional nationally-qualified search and rescue capability. I thoroughly recommend anybody considering this type of volunteering to get in touch with us.”
Mr Ball attended a garden party at Buckingham Palace on May 20 where he, his daughter and a member from ALSAR met the Queen.
The team will receive the award from one of the Lord Lieutenants of Sussex later this summer.