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The Queens Award for Voluntary Service Logo MBE

Volunteers at the Hope Nature Centre in Southwick are jubilant after hearing they have been chosen for a Queen’s Award.

The centre, set on 15 acres of land in the picturesque location, provides a place of work for adults with learning disabilities.

It boasts a collection of miniature Shetland ponies, guinea pigs, goats, ducks, geese, donkeys, pigs and chickens as well as a restaurant and cafe area.

It was set up in 1999 by June Fleming and Hazel Jackson.

hope v02.jpg pwrt2After a long struggle to get it established, the doors opened in 2006 and it has proven popular with community groups, who use the cafe as a meeting place.

The efforts paid off on Thursday when staff, volunteers and service users were told that they are one of 130 groups nationwide to have scooped the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.

Mrs Jackson, whose son has Down’s Syndrome, said: “I am absolutely over the moon. It means all the hard work over the years has paid off. We came up with the idea back in 1999 because I have got a son who has Down’s Syndrome and I found that there was nowhere for them to go.

“The centre gives them a place where they can have a working occupation but it is also very well used by various groups in the community and it is a nice way for everyone to mix with people with disabilities, who can come here without fear of being told off if they make an unexpected noise. We are not like your regular cafe. We cater for all sorts of disabilities.”

 

Service user Toni Deeks, who has worked with Hope for three years, said: “We have built everything up to what it is ourselves and I am very proud of what we have done. It is a nice reward after everything. There is a lot of interest in what we do and it is nice that someone like the Queen has recognised that.”

Wiltshire councillor Tom James OBE, who represents Trowbridge Adcroft, is chairman of the organisation’s trustees.

Cllr James said: “We have 29 service users and 15 active volunteers as well as our paid staff and without their hard work this place just wouldn’t be possible. Winning the award has made it all worthwhile and it has left us feeling rejuvenated to keep going for the future.”

The charity was boosted in the same week by the news Sainsbury’s in Trowbridge has chosen it as one of their local charities for the year.

Peter Bull, of the Royal Air Force Association Trowbridge branch, nominated the nature centre.

Mr Bull said: “As a group we quite often come here for coffee mornings and when we were asked to consider any organisations that are worthy of the award I couldn’t think of anyone better. They do a marvellous job.”

The group will receive a certificate and a representative will be invited to a garden party at Buckingham Palace later this summer.

Hope Nature Centre . Southwick Country Park . Frome Road . Southwick . Wiltshire . BA14 9QD
Telephone: 01225 759075
Email: info@hopenaturecentre.org.uk

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