More than 260 organisations across the UK have been awarded the King’s Award for Voluntary Service, including a number of museums and heritage sites.
The annual award, which recognises volunteer groups that deliver outstanding community service, was established in 2002 and previously known as the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.
Among those to receive the award in 2023 are Chapter House Museum Trust, a local history exhibition that tells the story of the town of Dunkeld in Perthshire and the redevelopment of its reformed church. The trust was recognised for how it has created a range of opportunities and experiences for people in its community, from a youth-focused group to memory club for older residents.
The museum’s manager Ruth Brown said: “I am very proud of our volunteers’ achievements as we simply could not exist without them. Our volunteers range in age from 17 to 96, and we are so fortunate to benefit from the diverse range of opinions and skills they bring to our workforce.”
The trust wants to redevelop and extend its premises to offer more community engagement opportunities and welcome more visitors.
The Holocaust Centre North is another recipient of the award, which is equivalent to an MBE. The centre works with volunteers – many of whom are first, second and third generation survivors – to run its site at the University of Huddersfield, share first-hand living testimonies to schools and community groups, and help preserve collections.
“Receiving the King’s Award for Voluntary Service for our organisation is a profound honour that validates the efforts of every volunteer,” said Martin Kapel, one of the centre’s older volunteers at 93, who came to the UK as a child refugee on the Kindertransport and gives talks to schools in a voluntary capacity. “It's a tribute to the spirit of service over self, and to me personally, it's an affirmation that every small act of kindness contributes to a legacy of change.”
The Holocaust Centre North’s director, Alessandro Bucci, added: “With antisemitism and Islamophobia on the rise, and the sad reality that many of our survivors are no longer with us, shedding a spotlight on the risks of baseless hatred in society is more timely and important than ever.”
Overall, 262 volunteer-led groups were recognised in the awards, including 227 from England, 20 from Scotland, six from Wales and nine from Northern Ireland.
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Other museums to be awarded include Amberly Museum in West Sussex; Coldharbour Mill Museum in Devon; Ruddington Framework Knitters Museum in Nottinghamshire; and Crewkerne & District Museum & Heritage Centre in Somerset.
Swannington Heritage Trust in Leicestershire and Kirkgate Arts and Heritage in Cumbria were also recognised.