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Friends of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust awarded The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service (3rd June 2016)

Friends of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust awarded The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service

The Friends of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust have been awarded The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in recognition of nearly 50 years support for the independent Museum, which has national and international standing.

This is the highest award given to voluntary groups across the United Kingdom. Its aim is to recognize outstanding work done in the local community, and as such sets a national benchmark for excellence in volunteering. It is the MBE for volunteer groups.

The Friends of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust is one of 193 charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups to receive the prestigious award this year. A slightly higher number than last year, it shows that the voluntary sector is thriving and full of innovative ideas to tackle community challenges.

Created in 2002 to celebrate The Queen’s Golden Jubilee, the awards are announced annually on 2nd June – the anniversary of The Queen’s Coronation. Winners receive a certificate signed by The Queen and an engraved crystal, both of which will be presented to the Friends by the Lord Lieutenant, Sir Algernon Heber-Percy.

The Friends of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust was founded in 1968 to support the fledgling Museum. Delighted to have received the award Geraldine King, Chair, said; “I pay tribute to all the present and past Friends whose unstinting hard work has made this award possible. From the time of the first Museum Open Day in September 1969 there have always been Friends willing to give their time freely in support of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust.

“The Friends of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust richly deserve this honour. They have supported the Museum financially and in kind, with donations and physical and academic assistance since its inception. Throughout the existence of the Museum the Friends have made major financial contributions to buy exhibits, and refurbish buildings and equipment, particularly projects with which members have been associated”, added Geraldine King.

The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service Committee Chair, former broadcast journalist Sir Martyn Lewis commented: “I warmly congratulate all of the inspirational voluntary groups who have been rewarded for their community work with a Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. The judging panel for this year’s awards were struck by the quality and breadth of all the successful groups. The thousands of volunteers who give up spare time to help others in their community and to help solve problems demonstrate the very best of democracy in action.”

Congratulating all groups who received this year’s Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in recognition of their fantastic achievements, Minister for Civil Society, Rob Wilson, said: “The huge amount of work and commitment these organisations put into their local communities is surpassed only by the passion and motivation of the individuals who volunteer. I hope these groups continue to inspire others to get involved and make a positive impact so that we can continue to build a more compassionate society.”

Many substantial grants have continued to be made to the Ironbridge Gorge Museum in the last 20 years, in particular to help fund the building of new exhibits at Blists Hill, for example £16,000 given for the Grocer’s Shop, and a similar amount helped fund the Railway Goods Shed. Over nearly 50 years the Friends have contributed thousands of pounds to the Ironbridge Gorge Museum, funding art, ceramics, iron and many other exhibits; not to mention the literally thousands of hours of volunteering, for which the Friends are being honoured by The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.

The Friends are currently fundraising for the Pit Head Gear at Blists Hill Victorian Town. Since they first supported it in 1973, the 40 years of exposure to the British weather has had a detrimental effect on the replica structure, and this year the Friends launched an appeal to raise £15,000 to replace it.