Bedfordshire Festival honoured with Queen's Award

The committee with the award
The committee with the award

Deserving representitives of the Bedfordshire Festival of Music Speech and Drama received the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service this week

The presentation was made at a special ceremony held at the Swan Hotel on 4th September 2019.

Julia Smith accepting the award from Lord Lieutenant of Bedfordshire Helen Nellis

Julia Smith accepting the award from Lord Lieutenant of Bedfordshire Helen Nellis

The Lord-Lieutenant of Bedfordshire, Helen Nellis, presented The Festival with the award in recognition of the volunteers’ dedication and commitment.

And to make the event even more special the festival’s volunteers, sponsors and friends were invited to attend as well.

The Festival has supported the performing arts in Bedfordshire for many years by staging an annual week-long event at the Corn Exchange Complex allowing singers, musicians and dramatists of all disciplines and ages to perform in public whilst receiving feedback from professional adjudicators who are specialists in their fields.

The festival is a charity and is entirely self-funded, run by a committee of volunteers and a part-time secretary.

Members of the stewarding team with the award

Members of the stewarding team with the award

During Festival week in March the committee is joined by over 50 dedicated volunteer stewards take over the Bedford Corn Exchange for the event, coordinating a myriad of performers and spectators. Last year alone, nearly 2,000 people took part.

The award ceremony included several performances from musicians and dramatists who performed in last year’s Festival and included: Rebecca Woolley (singing), Eva Berman (speech & drama), Aidan & Alex Cham (cello) and Jonathan Hosking (speech & drama)

The festival’s chairman, Julia Smith said: "This award is testimony to the hard work, dedication and commitment of all our volunteers, without whom the festival simply would not be able to take place each year. We are extremely proud that we are the first festival to ever receive such an accolade.

"The festival is about to enter its 99th year! So the award also recognises how the festival, one of the largest and longest-standing in the country thanks to the amazing input of their volunteers over the years, has had the ability to evolve and change over time since its inception in 1921, and remains relevant to the needs of the Bedfordshire community today."

She added: “ We really hope that this award will help to raise awareness of this fantastic annual event in Bedfordshire’s cultural calendar, encouraging even more entries so that as we approach our centenary we achieve record numbers of participants taking part to begin our next 100 years."

The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service is the highest award given to local volunteer groups across the UK to recognise outstanding work done in their communities. It was created in 2002 to celebrate the anniversary of the Queen’s coronation and is equivalent to an MBE for volunteer groups.

The Festival is always looking for more volunteers, so if it sounds like something you would like to be involved with you can contact the festival secretary, Alix Smith on festival@bedfordshirefestival.org.uk