A voluntary group from Humshaugh, which saved and now runs the village’s only shop, has been honoured with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK.

Humshaugh Village Shop was threatened with closure after its Post Office was shut down in 2009. Humshaugh Community Ventures Limited was formed to take over the store and now a 40 strong team manages and staffs the shop seven days a week. Profits are used to fund projects in the village by giving grants to groups and individuals. The team also initiated its own projects including a village handbook, bread making, apple pressing and village beehives. There has even been a trial of an electric car for use by the community.

Humshaugh Village Shop is one of 193 charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups to receive the prestigious award this year. The number of awards given to groups this year is slightly higher than last year, showing that the voluntary sector is thriving and full of innovative ideas to tackle community challenges.

The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service is the highest award given to local volunteer groups across the UK to recognise outstanding work in their communities. The awards were created in 2002 to celebrate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee and winners are announced each year on 2 June – the anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation.

Award winners this year range from a War Memorial Community Trust, providing social facilities for the benefit of the community in Clwyd, Wales, to a club enhancing the community by developing individuals through athletics, in Ayrshire and Arran, Scotland.

Humshaugh Village Shop will receive the award from the Lord Lieutenant of Northumberland, the Duchess of Northumberland, at a garden party in Alnwick Garden later this month. One of the directors, Steve Robins, and his wife Marilyn attended a garden party at Buckingham Palace on May 24th where the thousands of guests included other winners of this year’s award.

The Chairman of the shop’s directors, Dick Moules, said:

“I am thrilled that Humshaugh Village Shop volunteers have been honoured in this way. It recognises the commitment of all who help make the shop thrive. The equivalent of an MBE for voluntary service, it is the pinnacle of the many awards we have received in the last six years.”

The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service Committee Chair, former broadcast journalist Sir Martyn Lewis said:

“I warmly congratulate all of the inspirational voluntary groups who have been rewarded for their community work with a Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. The judging panel for this year’s awards were struck by the quality and breadth of all the successful groups.
The thousands of volunteers who give up spare time to help others in their community and to help solve problems demonstrate the very best of democracy in action.”

Minister for Civil Society, Rob Wilson, said:

“I would like to congratulate all groups who received this year’s Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, in recognition of their fantastic achievements. The huge amount of work and commitment these organisations put into their local communities is surpassed only by the passion and motivation of the individuals who volunteer. I hope these groups continue to inspire others to get involved and make a positive impact so that we can continue to build a more compassionate society.”

Read more about this in the Hexham Courant here.