Museum’s volunteers awarded highest volunteering accolade

DM16129905a.jpg Weald and Downland Open Air Museum volunteers win the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service. Millers, L to R Pat Naismith, Nigel Smeet, Brian Lever, Tim Green and Robin Hamilton. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-160721-095258008
DM16129905a.jpg Weald and Downland Open Air Museum volunteers win the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service. Millers, L to R Pat Naismith, Nigel Smeet, Brian Lever, Tim Green and Robin Hamilton. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-160721-095258008

Chichester’s Weald and Downland museum volunteers have taken part in celebrations after being granted the prestigious Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.

The museum’s group of 600 volunteers were handed the accolade for their remarkable work, ranging from interpretation to maintenance and gardening to guided tours.

DM16129932a.jpg Weald and Downland Open Air Museum volunteers win the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service. Vic Constable, left and John Walshe accept the award from The Lord-Lieutenant of West Sussex Mrs Susan Pyper. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-160721-095146008

DM16129932a.jpg Weald and Downland Open Air Museum volunteers win the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service. Vic Constable, left and John Walshe accept the award from The Lord-Lieutenant of West Sussex Mrs Susan Pyper. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-160721-095146008

The award was presented by Lord Lieutenant of West Sussex, Mrs Susan Pyper (pictured right), on July 20, where a certificate signed by Her Majesty The Queen was handed to the integral team at Weald and Downland.

Charlie Thwaites, visitor and volunteer co-ordinator at the Weald and Downland Museum, said: “There is no museum without our volunteers, we could not survive or work without them.

“I am so proud of every single one of them – it is not easy to get this award, the final decision is made by the Queen.”

The Weald and Downland Open Air Museum is one of 193 charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups to receive the prestigious title this year.

DM16129987a.jpg Weald and Downland Open Air Museum volunteers win the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-160721-094644008

DM16129987a.jpg Weald and Downland Open Air Museum volunteers win the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-160721-094644008

The number of awards given to groups is slightly higher than last year, showing that the voluntary sector is thriving and full of innovative ideas to tackle community challenges.

Charlie added: “We have 600 volunteers, so a lot of people from the community, but we have also had volunteers from all over the world.

“They all do so much, from visiting schools and sharing knowledge to working with our wood men.

“The whole community should be very proud of this award – many people are not awarded it.

DM16130020a.jpg Weald and Downland Open Air Museum volunteers win the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-160721-094427008

DM16130020a.jpg Weald and Downland Open Air Museum volunteers win the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-160721-094427008

“The award ceremony was a very happy event.

“The Lord Lieutenant told everyone how hard it is to get this award and made everybody feel incredibly valued.”

The awards were created in 2002 to celebrate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee and winners are announced each year on June 2 – the anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation.

Volunteers carried on the celebrations after the award was presented with their volunteers’ annual party.

Commenting on the award win, Martin Purslow, CEO of the Weald and Downland Museum, said: “I am immensely proud of this achievement for our strong band of volunteers.

“This award is a testament to their hard work and dedication to engaging the visiting public and wider community in the museum’s collection of rescued vernacular buildings.”

Mr Purslow added: “Volunteering is a fantastic way to become involved in your community and to give something back through sharing knowledge whilst learning something new.

“Anyone interested in joining our friendly team as a volunteer is invited to make contact with our visitor and volunteer services manager here at the museum.”