Following the announcement of the Award on 2nd June 2020, today, on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen, the Vice Lord Lieutenant of Buckinghamshire Mr Alexander Boswell presented the Cowper & Newton Museum Volunteers with their Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service at an online ceremony.
“Volunteers, it’s your devotion to the house and gardens that have won this award. You have been recognised as operating the museum to the highest standards. Your warmth and enthusiasm creates a friendly welcome and gives visitors a special experience and a lasting glow. It’s you who brings the 18th century to life. You are an exceptional team and in inspiration to the local community. You help Olney’s rich history to live again creating a lasting legacy of wellbeing. So, well done all of you. Every single one of you has played a part in this award and you should be rightly proud to be recognised in this way. Ladies and gentlemen, the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service is fitting recognition for the work of this remarkable group of dedicated volunteers. I now congratulate you all, museum staff and volunteers, trustees, supporters and sponsors for serving your community so well. You do a great job and you should all be very proud of your achievements”.
The group supports all aspects of the running of the Museum including front of house, conservation, catering, maintenance, gardening, events planning, fundraising, administration, and guiding. The museum tells the stories of William Cowper (a nationally renowned 18th century poet), and his friend John Newton (the local curate-in-charge and former slave ship captain), who together wrote a total of 348 hymns known collectively as “The Olney Hymns”, the most famous of which “Amazing Grace” was written by John Newton in Olney in 1772. Both men also played a significant role in the campaign to abolish the slave trade.
The volunteers also promote the museum in the wider community through delivering talks and lectures and by giving costumed displays of 18th century dance.
The Queens Award for Voluntary Service aims to recognise outstanding work by volunteer groups to benefit their local communities and was created in 2002 to celebrate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee. Recipients are announced each year on 2nd June, the anniversary of the Queen’s coronation.
Paul Collins, Chairman of the Museum’s Trustees commented:
“Coming just 5 weeks after the 120th anniversary of the founding of the museum in 1900, I am delighted that the hard work and commitment shown by our volunteers, and so appreciated by our visitors both local, national, and international, has been recognised by this prestigious award”