The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service is the highest award given to volunteer groups across the UK for outstanding work in their local communities, for the benefit of others. This annual award was created by Her Majesty to celebrate her Golden Jubilee in 2002. It is awarded, annually, to organisations and community groups across the UK, on 2 June, the anniversary of Her Majesty’s Coronation. As a national honour, equivalent to the MBE, the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service sets the benchmark for excellence in volunteering across the UK. This year, the Mills Archive is one of 18 nominated organisations from Berkshire, but the only heritage organisation from the county.
Our volunteers have always been, and will continue to be, essential to the success of the Mills Archive over the past 17 years. The nomination of this award recognises the immeasurable contribution of all our volunteers over the years. They have come from all walks of life and all ages from 18 to 80 plus. Their skills and knowledge have helped us to expand and develop worldwide access to our resources and collections. This wide age range and the varied backgrounds of the volunteers provides a good social mix that makes working at the Mills Archive a great pleasure.
Not all the nominated organisations will win an award but the Lord Lieutenancy of Berkshire consider it important to publicly recognise the achievements of the nominated organisations. So on Thursday, 4 April, Liz Bartram, Elizabeth Trout and Guy Boocock, one of our long-standing volunteers, were invited to attend the Lord Lieutenant of Berkshire’s QAVS Nominee’s Reception. We were pleased that Dennis Coombs, Chairman of the Friends of Upminster Windmill, who was one of the people who put the Trust forward for nomination, was also able to attend the ceremony with us.
The Lord Lieutenant and his ceremonial Cadets were present in full dress uniform, along with the Mayors and Councillors from the Berkshire towns and parishes where the 18 organisations come from. It was quite a large gathering and we felt honoured to be there. Prior to the QAVS Nomination Awards, three people were awarded the British Empire Medal for ‘meritorious civil or military service’. The citations for these three people were outstanding and very moving.
After the BEM medals had been awarded, it was time for the nominees of the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service to receive their nomination certificates. The citation for each nominated organisation was read out by the Vice Lieutenant. Two or three representatives of each organisation were invited to go up to receive the nomination certificate from the Lord Lieutenant. Guy received the one for the Mills Archive.
We were very proud when the photographs were taken, as you can see from our broad smiles. Afterwards we had tea and delicious cakes; Liz is still talking about the ten different kinds of cake. The certificate is now standing on the mantelpiece in the Library. So now we must wait until the 2 June to find out if we have been successful in winning the Award...
Photographs by Stewart Turkington