The Bluebell Railway Preservation Society is delighted to be one of 103 UK volunteering groups to be granted this year's The Queen's Award for Voluntary Service, the MBE for volunteer groups.
This prestigious award is given to such groups across the UK for outstanding work done in their local communities. It recognises volunteering work that is of social, economic or environmental service to the local community and is supported, recognised and respected by the people who benefit from it.
Part of the citation for the Bluebell states the award is for "Pioneering the preservation of Britain's Railway Heritage through Railway Operation" and it goes on to acknowledge the contribution the Railway has made to education and the inclusiveness of the Society with its "welcome to all" philosophy.
More than 850 groups around the UK, Channel Islands and Isle of Man have now won the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service, over the eight years since it was created by Her Majesty to mark the occasion of her Golden Jubilee in 2002. Winners of this year's award were selected from 341 groups nominated by members of the public. Until this year no organisation involved in Railway Preservation has received the Award.
Roy Watts, Chairman of the Society said "The Railway has received many awards for specific activities but this is very, very special as it acknowledges the contribution of the millions of hours of effort made by every single one of all our volunteers past and present over the fifty years since the Society was formed. Railway enthusiasts like ourselves are sometimes considered to be obsessive and insular. This Award recognises our value to society in education and recreation, our professional approach, our contribution to the community and our dedicated hard work."
The Queen's Award for Voluntary Service Main Award Committee Chair and former broadcast journalist, Martyn Lewis CBE, said:
"Outstanding volunteer groups across the UK all too often go without recognition for the truly amazing work they do, despite the vital part they play in helping bind our communities together. It's a great pleasure to celebrate the efforts of The Bluebell Railway Preservation Society with The Queen's Award for Voluntary Service."
The Bluebell Railway Preservation Society will receive a certificate signed by The Queen and a commemorative piece of crystal for display at it headquarters in Sussex. The presentation of the award will be made during the summer by the Lord Lieutenant of East Sussex on behalf of the Queen.
Notes to Editors:
About the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service
In 2002, in celebration of Her Majesty's Golden Jubilee, the Queen's Golden Jubilee Award for Voluntary Service by Groups in the Community was established. Its purpose is to recognise groups of individuals who are giving their time freely for the benefit of others. It is the highest honour that can be bestowed upon groups of this kind and is equivalent in status to the MBE. As such, the Queen's Award not only serves to provide recognition of volunteer groups, but also demonstrates the high respect in which volunteering is held.
The Award is overseen by the Office of Civil Society (OCS). As part of the Cabinet Office, the OCS leads work across government to support the environment for a thriving third sector (voluntary and community groups, social enterprises, charities, cooperatives and mutuals), enabling it to campaign for change, deliver public services, promote social enterprise and strengthen communities.
Groups must be nominated for the Award - self nomination is not permitted. A group (two or more people) can be nominated if it is based in the UK, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. The group has to have been volunteering for the benefit of people in the UK or overseas for at least three years and more than half its members must be volunteers who have the right of residence in the UK. Groups solely concerned with fundraising for charitable purposes are not eligible. Further details on entrance criteria and the nomination process are available from the direct.gov website.
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