Volunteers at Milton Keynes Museum have been honoured with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the highest award that a voluntary group can receive in the UK.
Over the last year, some 280 people regularly donated their time as volunteers for the museum. Their work is integral to the success of the museum – in 2018 almost 60,000 visitors came to find out more about local heritage.
Volunteers who have donated their time have been aged from 16 to 91 and come from all walks of life. Their work has been wholly responsible for the museum being recognised as an important tourist attraction, and a welcoming place to spend leisure time.
Museum volunteers are involved in all aspects of the running of the museum; Room guides, cafe and shop staff, administrators, educators, event organisers, maintenance workers, gardeners and collections specialists are among them.
They work at all levels, including management and give just a few hours to several days each week. Using the NLHF guidelines, their contribution equates to over £300,000/year.
Visitors to the museum regularly leave feedback praising the volunteers for their warm and welcoming attitude, and for the time and effort they spend with those passing through.
While many museums depend upon volunteers, the fortunes of Milton Keynes Museum have been transformed because of its volunteers. Over the past 46 years, they have steered it from a small collection to an award-winning heritage site; the most recent success is the ongoing £7.2 million expansion.
Museum director Bill Griffiths is ecstatic that the tireless work of the volunteers has been recognised with this prestigious accolade.
He said: “Receiving the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service shines a light on the importance of our vast volunteer network.
“It is their enthusiasm and knowledge that has taken the museum to the next level.
“They really are the backbone of the operation, and without their continued commitment, the museum simply would not be the success it is today. It probably wouldn’t even exist.”
Bill added: “I would like to take this opportunity to extend my thanks to each and every one of the volunteers. I know that they are remarkable. Now they have a Queen’s Award to their name, and everyone else will know just how remarkable they are too.”
The volunteers will receive the award from Sir Henry Aubrey-Fletcher, Lord Lieutenant of Buckinghamshire later this summer.
Ron Unwin, the only surviving founding volunteer still working regularly (the replica birthing chair in #HERstory is a recent example of his skill) attended a garden party at Buckingham Palace in May, along with other recipients of this year’s Award. The museum is now planning its own party for volunteers to celebrate the achievement.
Milton Keynes Museum is one of 281 charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups to receive the prestigious award this year. The number of nominations and awards has increased year on year since the awards were introduced in 2002, showing that the voluntary sector is thriving and full of innovative ideas to make life better for those around them.
The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service aims to recognise outstanding work by volunteer groups to benefit their local communities. It was created in 2002 to celebrate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee. Winners are announced each year on 2 June – the anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation.