The Cobham Conservation and Heritage Trust recognised with Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service for 2015 Print
Saturday, 06 June 2015 10:44

queensaward logo-w200The voluntary group Cobham Conservation and Heritage Trust who work in the community to preserve the heritage and culture of Cobham and its surrounding areas, has been honoured with the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service, the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK.

Celebrating its tenth successive year, the Cobham Conservation and Heritage Trust continues to promote high standards of architecture and planning in Cobham whilst educating the local community in the geography, natural history, history and culture of the local area. The Trust meets the need for a strong voice in the community to ensure the best of the past is preserved and cherished, whilst being mindful of the needs of future generations.

The Cobham Conservation and Heritage Trust was started some ten years ago by the current chairman, Sir Gerald Acher and David Tipping, Vice Chairman to meet the need of a stronger community voice in many of the developments affecting Cobham, it's residential and conservation areas, high street and open spaces. It soon represented a strong voice on the planning agenda helping conserve much of the built environment under threat working with the Cobham and other local resident associations. Heritage Day with its famous plastic duck race was established in its first year to showcase our community and through it our history. A farmers market followed which still flourishes today under independent control. Conservation projects included The Tilt Memorial to those who lost their lives in the Second World War and the award winning Riverhill Regeneration project dedicated by HRH Countess of Wessex last year as our Diamond Jubilee project. We started a 'Blue Plaque' project to recognise important people and places from an earlier era. The Trust publishes an informative quarterly newsletter and website as well as publishing and promoting books of local interest working with Cobham's local historian Dr David Taylor. The trust is actively developing new initiatives including a young people's section and a programme of local footpath upgrading. The Trust works actively through its hard working 14 person committee, over 150 volunteers, local schools, Elmbridge Borough Council Leisure Services department, Surrey County Council, the Environment Agency, St. Andrew's Church and other local organisations and has now grown to over 1,100 fee-paying members.

Mr David Bellchamber, Planning Officer and Mrs Norah Bethell, Volunteers Co-ordinator from the Cobham Conservation and Heritage Trust represented the Trust at a garden party at Buckingham Palace on 28th May 2015 where they met the Queen and other winners of this year's award.

The Cobham Conservation and Heritage Trust is one of 187 charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups to receive the prestigious award this year. The number of awards handed out to groups have increased by over 60% from 2014, due to an increase in high quality applications, showing that the voluntary sector is thriving and full of innovative ideas to tackle community challenges.

The Queen's Award for Voluntary Service is the highest award given to local volunteer groups across the UK to recognise outstanding work in their communities. The awards were created in 2002 to celebrate the Queen's Golden Jubilee and winners are announced each year on 2 June – the anniversary of the Queen's Coronation. Award winners this year range from Ablaze, a charity helping to raise academic achievement amongst disadvantaged young people in Bristol to a volunteer rescue boat service on Loch Lomond.

Sir Gerald Acher CBE LVO, Chairman of the Cobham Conservation and Heritage Trust said:

"This is a tremendous achievement for the Trust and its hard working committee and one which I am very proud to have been involved with. During the last decade, the Cobham Conservation and Heritage Trust has gone from strength to strength tackling some ambitious projects such as entertaining 5,000 people annually on Heritage Day; creating an education programme for the local schools; and hosting HRH The Countess of Wessex for the Dedication of the £150,000 Riverhill Project to the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. All of our projects such as these are run solely by our army of willing volunteers.
To achieve our goals we have involved individuals, families, local businesses, schools, clubs, Borough and County Councils, and the community spirit and cohesion of Cobham is obvious from our combined achievements. I would like to thank my wonderful committee, all our members, volunteers and supporters and I look forward to working with everyone in the next exciting ten years."

Surrey's County Councillor for Cobham, Mary Lewis, who nominated the Trust for this award, said:

"I was delighted to nominate the Cobham Conservation and Heritage Trust because they have made such a positive contribution to the community spirit of Cobham over the last decade by bringing people from all walks of life together, through a variety of worthwhile and enjoyable projects. They are the sort of organisation that binds communities together, which has been invaluable to Cobham."

The Cobham Conservation and Heritage Trust will receive the award from the Lord Lieutenant of Surrey, Dame Sarah Goad DCVO JP later this summer.

The Queen's Award for Voluntary Service Committee Chair, former broadcast journalist Martyn Lewis CBE said:

"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 best of democracy in action."

Minister for Civil Society, Rob Wilson, said:
"I would like to congratulate all groups who received this year's Queen's Award for Voluntary Service, in recognition of their fantastic achievements. The hard work and commitment that goes into the work of these organisations 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 bigger, stronger society."