Three railway preservation centres have received the coveted Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service – Didcot Railway Centre, and the Swanage and Leighton Buzzard Railways.
The award recognises excellence in voluntary activities by community groups and is the equivalent to the Queen’s Award for Export Achievement, Queen’s Award for Technology or, for an individual, the MBE.
Didcot Railway Centre Manager, Roger Orchard said: “We feel hugely honoured to have been given this award, especially in our 50th anniversary year. We hope this award will stimulate more volunteers to come to the centre and see the many different volunteering roles we are able to offer people of all ages and abilities.”
In the citation for the Queen’s Award to the Swanage Railway, the railway’s trust was praised for "developing the railway to reinstate services between Swanage and Wareham for the benefit of the community."
Swanage Railway Trust Chairman, Gavin Johns, said: "This is a tremendous public recognition for the huge amount of work put in by so many volunteers over the last 45 years to bring about this milestone in community rail services.
"To have all the hard work that has been required over the past 45 years to create the Swanage Railway marked in this way by Her Majesty the Queen is very special indeed and something that we will treasure.”
The Leighton Buzzard Railway’s award follows a nomination by past Mayor of Leighton Buzzard Councillor Amanda Dodwell, comes as the Society prepares to celebrate its 50th anniversary later this year.
“We are thrilled, honoured but above all humbled to have received this award,” said Chairman Terry Bendall. “Our team today still includes a number of members who helped to get us off the ground back in 1967, truly they have given a lifetime of commitment.
“We are proud to have an active number of junior volunteers, eager to learn from them, thereby ensuring the survival of the traditional skills and trades upon which our future as a preserved railway depends.”