In 2020 the ‘Shed Heads’ from Broadstairs Town Shed were awarded the highest accolade for volunteers, equivalent to an MBE, by Her Majesty the Queen.
The Covid pandemic meant the citation and presentation of The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service was delayed for over a year but finally took place on Thursday (July 15).
The Lord Lieutenant of Kent, Lady Colgrain, visited Broadstairs to make the presentation to the team.
She said: “The work that Broadstairs Town Shed has done to tackle loneliness and isolation in the community is to be commended. Throughout the past 18 months, we have become all too aware how vital it is to support each other to combat these issues and the work that Broadstairs Town Shed does to address these matters, year-round, is an inspiration to us all.
“Taking care of our mental health is essential and the skills that users can learn at this impressive facility go such a long way in giving a sense of purpose and camaraderie. When Broadstairs Town Shed was assessed for The Award, everyone interviewed was unanimous in their praise for the volunteers, with many describing the group as ‘life-saving’.
“This is testament to the passion and care they all have for the users of the group and how crucial the group is in the community. A key aspect of The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service is that the group must be volunteer led. It is extremely rare to see such a dynamic organisation at this scale operating almost completely on dedicated volunteer effort, the volunteers at Broadstairs Town Shed are truly exceptional.”
Garry Gillott, one of the 10 recipients, said : ‘It’s such a great honour to be recognised in this way. The glass Crystal and official citation we have received is amazing. We are all part of the Shed family because we love it and it gives us all a way to continue to give back to our community.
“We share our love of woodworking, turning and carpentry and to pass on our knowledge and skills to others too. The Shed unites so many older people in Thanet and is a space that creates opportunities to learn, work and socialise together. We’re also delighted that we can finally open up again to members from Tuesday, July 20.”
Trustee of Broadstairs Town Team Kerry Millett, who opened the Shed in 2014, added: “It was such a happy occasion, however we really missed one of our ‘Shed Heads’ Andy Parkins, who was unable to attend, as he was self-isolating, but we’ll have a mini celebration and re-create the occasion for him when he can join us all again.
“We also presented an award posthumously to Sally, wife of Ron Weedon, our Shed Head that so very sadly passed away last year.”
Find out more about Broadstairs Town Shed at: broadstairstownshed.org.uk