As a small market town, Dorking is known for its strong sense of community; a spirit that is at the very heart of the town, running throughout its welcoming population, independent businesses and local groups. It is this special community spirit that has now been recognised by two local organisations being awarded the coveted Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.
Mid Surrey Community Fridges and Dorking Museum have both been honoured with the award that recognises the committed and hardworking volunteers that are not only the backbone of the organisations themselves but the wider community in general, giving their time freely to share key services, knowledge, assistance and support with those that visit and use the services that they provide.
Mid Surrey Community Fridges (MSCF), is a group of volunteers based around Dorking and mid-Surrey, formed in 2017 to divert as much good food from landfill as possible, by making that food easily available to anyone who wants it. Now operating from eight sites across Surrey, each week MSCF distributes around 7.5 tonnes of food and welcomes around 500 people to take a bag of groceries and fresh produce.
The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service is the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK and in being awarded to MSCF it recognises the 136 generous, committed and hard-working volunteers who maintain a complex logistic system to collect food from supermarkets and other sources and distribute it, particularly in their response to the Covid pandemic, working closely with local agencies to deliver food directly to people in urgent need.
Clare Davies, Founder and CEO of MSCF commented: “Our volunteers are the very heart and soul of Mid Surrey Community Fridges and I am thrilled that they have been recognised with this award. It is their enthusiasm, kindness and selflessness that has enabled us to help some of the most vulnerable through the most testing of times.
“Saving good food from going to waste is our passion and being able to reroute that food to make a positive contribution in the community is a real privilege; we are always bowled over by the messages of thanks we receive, from those who may have tried something new for the first time or who simply enjoy the sense of community that a visit to a Fridge provides.”
Mid Surrey Community Fridges was one of 241 charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups to receive the prestigious award for 2021. Another recipient of the award, also flying the flag for community spirit and volunteering in Dorking is Dorking Museum, who have also been recognised by the prestigious Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service for 2021.
With their many knowledgeable volunteers, that run both the West Street museum and the Cave Tours, Dorking Museum has been recognised as the key community, cultural and heritage hub of the town, relying on volunteer knowledge, enthusiasm and support to provide the excellent service it is renowned for.
Having endured a challenging year in light of the Covid pandemic, meaning that activities, initiatives and exhibitions had to be scaled back and often cancelled, the award honours the hard work and inventive ways that the museum has continued to reach audiences and engage users throughout this period.
Kathy Atherton, Chairman of Dorking Museum, said: “We are proud to announce the award to all our volunteers, they will be so pleased that the thousands of hours that they have put in over the last ten years since we re-opened, to welcome thousands of visitors and researchers to our permanent and temporary exhibitions, to launch guided walks, cave tours and talks, educational visits and loan boxes, and to publish nearly 20 books of local interest, has been officially recognized as a benefit to our community. As a purely voluntary organization with no paid staff, such recognition means a lot to everyone involved.”
Representatives from both Dorking Museum and Mid Surrey Community Fridges will be invited to attend a special garden party at Buckingham Palace in early 2022 to receive formal recognition of the honour.
To learn more about Mid Surrey Community Fridges, visit: https://midsurreycommunityfridges.co.uk.
To explore the latest from Dorking Museum and plan your visit, see: https://dorkingmuseum.org.uk.
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