It’s particularly appropriate that on this first day of the Platinum Jubilee Bank Holiday it has been officially announced that the Sulgrave Village Shop Volunteers have just been awarded The Queens’s Award for Voluntary Service. This is the highest award a local voluntary group can receive in the UK and is equivalent to an MBE.

The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service aims to recognise outstanding work by local volunteer groups to benefit their 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.

Representatives of the Sulgrave Volunteers will receive the award crystal and certificate from the Lord Lieutenant of Northamptonshire later this summer. In addition two volunteers will attend a garden party at Buckingham Palace in May 2023 (depending on restrictions at the time) along with other recipients of the Award.

This represents a very public recognition of the dedicated work for the shop by countless numbers of volunteers over seventeen years, some no longer with us, having sadly passed on or moved away.

Since the very beginning, the shop established a reputation for reliability, which has been maintained through various crises including the pandemic, shortages of volunteers and sadly, a number of malicious break-ins. Nothing daunted, the volunteers returned to clear up the mess and re-establish their cheerful service with a minimum of delay.


A Personal Note

My wife Molly, seen in the above photo taken fifteen years ago, was one of the original volunteers who did so much to establish the shop at a time when many doubted the outcome of the experiment. Numbers of these veterans continue to serve but the Award is also a tribute to those who are no longer able to participate, of whom Molly is one. 

As an early (though less active) volunteer myself, I was honoured to be asked to submit the nomination of the Shop Volunteers for this Award. This involved completing a specific nomination form, giving full details of the enterprise and its importance to the community. In this I was ably supported by letters of recommendation from the Vicar, Father Leggett, the present Chairman of the Parish Council, Richard Fonge and former Barrister and long time village resident Roger Ellis. Finally, I have to acknowledge that without the drive and enthusiasm of Digby Lewis over a long period, the nomination might have foundered along the way!

However, my main contribution was the preparation of a booklet setting out a brief history of the shop, illustrated with photographs culled from the village website (which I edit), demonstrating the vital part played by the shop in the life of the village.

This was prepared for the assessment visit by the Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Northamptonshire, who presented it to the panel making the final choice of those deemed worthy of the award, as part of her recommendation.

A booklet can be viewed online here and a copy will also soon be available to be seen in the shop.

Colin Wootton


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