The Bedfordshire Festival of Music, Speech & Drama receives Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service

Volunteers who run the Bedfordshire Festival of Music, Speech & Drama have been honoured with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service,

the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK.

The Bedfordshire Festival of Music, Speech and Drama was founded in 1921 and provides a showcase for the wealth of talent in the amateur performing

arts in Bedfordshire and the surrounding area.

The festival offers a wide range of classes for all ages covering most musical genres including Classical, Musical Theatre, Jazz and Asian music, as well as many varied Speech and Drama classes including Verse Speaking, Acting, Mime and Improvisation.

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It features categories for school groups, Special School groups, orchestras, wind bands, junior and senior choirs and group creative


The festival, run by a committee of volunteers and a part-time secretary takes place at the Bedford Corn Exchange during the first week of March each year.

A group of over 50 dedicated volunteer stewards take over the Bedford Corn Exchange to manage the huge numbers of performers, teachers, parents and

local audience members.

“Their hard work ensures that everything runs smoothly for the eight days of the festival.

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The Bedfordshire Festival is one of 281 charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups to receive the prestigious award this year. The number of

nominations and awards has increased year-on-year since the awards were introduced in 2002, showing that the voluntary sector is thriving and full of

innovative ideas to make life better for those around them.

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.

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Award winners this year are wonderfully diverse. They include volunteers helping people overcome mental health problems through sport, volunteers using caravans as mobile cafe/information centres in geographically remote locations and another group mentoring children who have a parent in prison.

Representatives of The festival will receive the award from Helen Nellis, Lord Lieutenant of Bedfordshire in September.

The Festival’s Chairman, Jonathan Keep said: “Receiving the QAVS is testimony to the thousands of hours given voluntarily

each year by a dedicated team of committee members and stewards. We are fortunate to receive such dedicated support without which the Festival could

not be staged. My thanks go out to all involved in the staging of this significant event in the Bedfordshire calendar.”