The group of volunteers based in the Saddleworth and LeesVillages have been honoured with The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK and is the equivalent of an MBE.
Each year, approximately 300 volunteers are involved in presenting the Whit Friday Band Contests at eleven venues in Denshaw, Delph, Dobcross, Diggle, Uppermill, Greenfield, Friezland, Lydgate, Grotton, Lees and Springhead and Scouthead and Austerlands; there are innumerable hours of commitment needed to provide this spectacular, unique event.
The QAVS aims to recognise work by volunteer groups to benefit their local communities. Created in 2002 to celebrate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee, award recipients are announced each year on 2nd June, the anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation.
Representatives of the group received the award crystal and certificate signed by Her Majesty the Queen from the Lord Lieutenant of Greater Manchester, Sir Warren Smith, later this summer.
Spokesman Bob Rodgers, the co-ordinator for the group said “Although contests have been in existence for 137 years this group has functioned since 1993 and we are honoured and obviously delighted to have been successfully nominated for this award, the work that is undertaken to provide the ‘greatest free show on earth’ is a twelve-month rolling programme. To the visitors who arrive on the evening, it appears to ‘just happen’. Throughout the area thousands of hours are put into planning and preparation. We are indebted to Oldham Council for the infrastructure and advice they provide that only those involved in the running of the event are aware of and the financial support through the East Oldham Hub of Oldham Council, not to mention the numerous businesses and who sponsor the individual contests.