A theatre company in Sharnbrook has been honoured with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, which is the equivalent to the MBE and is the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK.
Sharnbrook Amateur Theatre Trust, a group with about 200 volunteers, has been recognised for the work the volunteers have undertaken to transform a redundant historic water mill into a thriving community theatre, for more than 40 years.
The Trust is one of 230 charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups to receive the prestigious award this year.
The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service aims to recognise outstanding work by volunteer groups to benefit their local communities. It was created in 2002 to celebrate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee.
Winners are announced each year on June 2, the anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation. It is the MBE for volunteer groups.
Representatives of Sharbrook Amateur Theatre Trust will receive the award from Helen Nellis, Lord Lieutenant of Bedfordshire later this summer, with two volunteers due to attend a garden party at Buckingham Palace in May 2021.
Douglas Pope, Chairman of the Trust said: “It is a great honour to receive this award which is in recognition of the selfless endeavours of so many since we embarked upon the 'Mill Theatre Project' in 1975.
“This achievement enables us to welcome and encourage anyone, whatever their age or ability, to participate in every aspect of theatre.
“Our volunteers not only make it possible to present quality theatrical productions, but with their assistance we are able to continually improve the building, keep our wardrobe stocked, arrange the props and sets and tirelessly fundraise to keep our unique building running, whatever the situation.”
The Mill Theatre is located in Sharnbrook, North Bedfordshire, and is entirely owned by a charitable trust.
The theatre opened in 1979, although the society pre-dates the theatre by many years.
The Theatre Trust produces at least four shows a year with a mixture of drama, musicals and variety, with audiences drawn from both the surrounding area and further afield.