Local history group presented with Queen's Award
The Historical Research Group of Sittingbourne (HRGS) / Heritage Hub were presented with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service (QAVS) by Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Kent, The Lady Colgrain, in the atrium of the Forum shopping centre in Sittingbourne on Thursday.
The award for 'Promoting local history through research, exhibitions, events and publications' had originally been bestowed on them in the Queen’s Birthday Honours on the 2nd June 2020, however, the presentation ceremony had been delayed due to the national covid situation.
At a gathering of HRGS members and Heritage Hub volunteers on Thursday, the Lord-Lieutenant of Kent presented the group with a prestigious QAVS crystal award and a certificate signed by Her Majesty the Queen. Lady Colgrain was accompanied by Deputy Lieutenants Kate Lampard CBE DL and Joanne Holmes MVO DL, together with His Worship the Mayor of Swale Cllr Paul Stephens and Mayoress Cllr Sarah Stephens with other VIP guests and supporters.
The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service – the MBE of volunteering, aims to recognise outstanding work by volunteer groups that benefit their local communities. It was created in 2002 to celebrate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee. Recipients are announced each year on 2nd June, the anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation.
Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Kent, The Lady Colgrain said at the presentation. "The Historical Research Group of Sittingbourne (HRGS) believes that ‘history is the glue that holds a community together’ and this is certainly demonstrated by the phenomenal range and breadth of historical research and activity undertaken on behalf of your community."
"HRGS is so much more than a historical research members group. It has become a valuable local community resource, developing the volunteers as well as building significant engagement with the local community through the Heritage Hub. The group’s mission to ‘bring history alive’ and to be the doorway to local history and heritage is more than achieved. You have all been instrumental in helping to regenerate the town and create a deeper sense of community."
Richard Emmett, the chairman of Historical Research Group of Sittingbourne said…” I am immensely honoured that the group’s dedication has been recognised for a Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. It reflects the huge enthusiasm shown by its volunteers in the promotion of history locally. Although affected by the covid situation, the Heritage Hub had to be closed when required, but we continued to maintain contact with our researchers and volunteers electronically throughout, by holding virtual meetings and deliveries. We are pleased to be able to reopen the Heritage Hub and to proudly display the award”.
Richard Emmett, the chairman of the Historical Research Group of Sittingbourne additionally said…” we are grateful to all our sponsors, supporters, volunteers, and would like to pay thanks to Praxis, the owners of The Forum for allowing us to use their unit and be able to work collaboratively with them on staging heritage events in the centre.”
The Lord-Lieutenant of Kent, The Lady Colgrain together with the Mayor and Mayoress of Swale spent time talking to members of HRGS and Hub volunteers and then made a tour of the Heritage Hub to see the exhibition space and find out more about the group and the various activities the group participate in.
The volunteers had also provided displays showing many of the activities that HRGS are involved with in the atrium; these including WW1 and WW2 research, digital archiving, and archaeological activities, as well as displays from partner groups - Kent Archaeological Society (https://kentarchaeology.org.uk), Wheels of Time (https://wheelsoftime.uk) and the Swale Migration Project (https://www.historicswale.org.uk/projects/64-swale-migration-project ).
To celebrate the event, all attendees were provided with a glass of non-alcoholic ‘bubbles’ and a piece of specially commissioned cake (from Bailey’s Coffee Shop) to mark the special occasion.
At the conclusion of the event the Lord Lieutenant of Kent, The Lady Colgrain and the two Deputy Lieutenants, Kate Lampard and Joanne Holmes were presented with a floral display by Evelyn (aged 6) and Eliza Furniss (aged 4) – granddaughters of HRGS’ committee members – Don and Jacky Harris. The flowers were supplied by ‘Flowers by Beatrice’.
The committee wanted to say “A BIG THANK YOU to everyone who helped make the day so special. Here are a few photos that capture the presentation of the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service to HRGS on Thursday 22nd July 2021; a proud day for HRGS and the town!”
If you would like to volunteer or find out more about this group, please check out their website: www.hrgs.co.uk