A right Royal honour for garden volunteers

Sue Simpson (front left) and some of the other volunteers at Alnwick Garden.
Sue Simpson (front left) and some of the other volunteers at Alnwick Garden.

The committed group of hard-working volunteers that help make the Alnwick Garden what it is have been honoured with a Royal award.

Last week, it was announced that they are one of 117 outstanding voluntary groups nationwide to have been awarded The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service 2013.

This national honour was created over a decade ago by Her Majesty to mark the Golden Jubilee in 2002 and to recognise the outstanding contributions made to local communities by groups of volunteers; it has an equivalent status for voluntary groups as the MBE has for individuals.

The Garden group consists of more than 80 volunteers at the moment, with extra support from youngsters from the Duchess’s Community High School.

Chairman of the volunteers, Sue Simpson, said that they were all ‘absolutely stunned, delighted and seriously honoured’ to receive the award.

“We would like to thank the people who put our names forward, which is a great thing to happen,” she said.

“The Garden is a fantastic place and we have always been proud to work there.

“The amount of satisfaction visitors get is enriching for us.”

She added her thanks to the staff at the attraction as well as the Duchess, saying that they thought of themselves as ‘one big team’.

Those receiving the award this year were selected from 270 groups nominated by members of the public who have seen the difference the volunteers have made to the lives of others or witnessed the benefits of a group’s work in their community.

The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service committee chairman, former broadcast journalist Martyn Lewis CBE said: “At grassroots level in communities across the land, there are millions of citizens identifying and tackling issues and problems that affect our society in all kinds of ways.

“They are the finest examples of democracy in action, giving selflessly of time and effort to make our country better for everyone.

“It is people like these who provide a fine incentive for even more of our citizens to join Britain’s great and growing volunteer army.”

Winners will receive a certificate signed by The Queen and an exclusive commemorative crystal, presented by Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenants – in this case the Duchess of Northumberland – at a special ceremony later in the year.