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Cotswold Wardens visit Buckingham Palace

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Author: Patrick Baines, Posted: Friday, 8th June 2018, 17:00

A trio of Gloucestershire residents spent last weekend in the gardens of Buckingham Palace after winning the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.

2018 was always going to be a year to remember for the Cotswold Voluntary Wardens, who are celebrating their fiftieth year of working in the Cotswolds with a party on 23rd June. The 350 or so volunteers were given an extra reason for celebrating when they received a letter from the palace informing them they had won the prestigious Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. The award is the highest accolade given to local volunteer groups across the UK – to recognise outstanding work done in their own communities. It was created in 2002 to celebrate the anniversary of The Queen’s coronation.

“We were over the moon when we received the news,” said Head Warden John Shaw. He continued: “To spend an afternoon in the gardens of Buckingham Palace was a huge privilege. It was a great honour to represent all the volunteers whose work is so important to the countryside.

“It was such an exciting afternoon. We travelled down nice and early and arrived at Buckingham Palace in very good time. We had to present our invitation and two forms of photographic identification, security was obviously very tight. We ate sandwiches and drank tea before her majesty arrived. The weather forecast was for heavy rain and thunder, but we managed to miss all of that which was a huge relief. It was a wonderful afternoon, one that I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”

John has been a member of the Cotswold Voluntary Wardens for over a decade. He continued: “I joined the Cotswold Voluntary Wardens soon after I retired. My wife Jennifer is also a member. The work we do is hard, we’re often out clearing paths, building stone walls and putting in new stiles. Another important role we do is lead countryside walks, which are a great way of discovering the countryside. We also work with schools and have helped build outdoor classrooms in the past. Another important part of our job is getting children from city schools out in the countryside, which is very rewarding.

“I became a walk leader five years ago, when I was Deputy Head Warden. I was lucky enough to take over from Martin Lovegrove as Head Warden earlier this year. It’s a huge honour to represent all the great people who give up so much of their time to help maintain this internationally recognised area of outstanding natural beauty.”

Later this month the wardens will be celebrating 50 years of service with a party on 23rd June. “It will be great to see so many of the wardens and celebrate our achievements. It’s not often we get the chance to all get together, so it promises to be a great evening,” said John.

John, who lives in Charlton Kings, is always keen to speak to people who are interested in joining the Cotswold Wardens. He said: “Anyone can join, all you need is enthusiasm for the Cotswolds and a willingness to offer your time and skills to help keep the Cotswolds special. There’s a number of different roles so if you’re interested please get in touch with us.”

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