Royal honour for Shropshire's selfless volunteers
Charities and volunteer groups across Shropshire and neighbouring counties have been given the royal seal of approval in the annual Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service awards.
From running cafes and community spaces, a theatre and even a steam train, to providing help to get older adults online and caring for war memorials, this year's awards show the diversity of projects that volunteers get involved in.
The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service recognises outstanding work by volunteer groups to benefit their local communities.
One of the recipients is The Forge Urban Revival, based at the Wakes in Oakengates.
The project is less that two years old but already find itself at the centre of the community, with its popular cafe and community activities.
Ann Johnson for The Forge Urban Revival said everyone connected with the project was thrilled.
"We are not the more usual type of volunteers, we ask people what their skills are and how they would like to use those skills. For instance we have an artist who had suffered a breakdown who now runs free art classes for the community. He is providing something for the community which is helping his self esteem and aiding his recovery.
"We also have people we can call on who can step in at a moment's notice to do things for us such as pick up surplus food from Lidl to use in the cafe."
Other recipients in this year's awards include the Shropshire War Memorial Association, which has been working to restore and care for memorials in time for the 100th anniversary of the First World War.
An award has also gone to the Getting Older Adults Online group which works to provide free education in computer skills to older and disabled people.
On the Shropshire/Worcester border, the hard working volunteers at Tenbury’s Regal Theatre have also been honoured.
Volunteers are the heart of The Regal and carry out roles covering box office, front of house, film projection, lighting and sound, backstage support, chaperoning, sweets and merchandise sales and ushers.
Theatre manager Adey Ramsel said that without them, the Regal would not be able to offer such a diverse programme.
“The volunteers are the backbone and spirit of The Regal," he said.
"We are so proud of everyone who gives us their free time. This award is recognition of all the amazing work they do and what they have achieved to make us the success we are today.
"Each year our audience numbers increase and the quality of our in-house shows gets better - I could not do my role without the volunteers and I’m over the moon they have been recognised in this way from such a prestigious level.”
Stephen Snead, chairman of the Regal Tenbury Trust, added: "This is an outstanding achievement, which reflects the hard work, commitment and passion of everyone who volunteers at The Regal.
"Every volunteer plays an important part in the Regal’s success and makes such a valuable contribution to our community. I’m looking forward to our celebrations.”