The Watercress Line has been honoured with The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.

It has been made in recognition of the contribution made by the railway’s many dedicated volunteers over nearly 50 years.

The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service is the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK and is equivalent to an MBE awarded to an individual.

The president of the railway, Richard Lacey, said: “Everybody at The Watercress Line is truly honoured and thrilled that our efforts have been recognised by this award. Since 1974, our wonderful volunteers, working with our small core of paid staff, have driven the restoration of the railway and reconnected Alresford to Alton by rail.

"Their skills, dedication and sheer hard work in restoring, operating and maintaining the railway and in delivering ground-breaking special events, such as our Steam Illuminations, has brought huge benefit to the local community.

“Without the enthusiasm and commitment of our extraordinary volunteers, none of this would have been possible.

“Being part of The Watercress Line’s volunteer team is a wonderful opportunity for people to come together to share experience and learn new skills and it brings value to the local community, as well as to the individual.

“I would like to send a huge thank you to all our volunteers, past and present, for all their contributions to our thriving enterprise. I hope that this award may tempt many more people to volunteer with us and benefit from what we have to offer.”

READ MORE: Oliver Bonas opens its doors in Winchester city centre

Representatives of The Watercress Line will receive the award crystal and certificate from The Lord-Lieutenant for Hampshire, Nigel Atkinson, later this summer. In addition, two volunteers will attend a garden party at Buckingham Palace in May 2023, along with other recipients of this year’s award.

The Watercress Line, which runs from Alresford to Alton, is one of 244 charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups to receive the prestigious Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service this year. Their work, along with others from across the UK, showcases all the ways in which volunteers contribute to their local communities and work to make life better for those around them.

The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service aims to recognise outstanding work by local volunteer groups to benefit their communities. It was created in 2002 to celebrate The Queen’s Golden Jubilee. Recipients are announced each year on June 2, the anniversary of The Queen’s Coronation.

HM Lord-Lieutenant of Hampshire, Nigel Atkinson, said: “Outstanding volunteer groups across Hampshire all too often go without recognition for the truly amazing work they do, despite the vital part they play in helping bind our communities together. It’s a great pleasure to celebrate the efforts of all of this year’s winners of The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, Andover Food Bank, Dementia Friendly, Kids on Track, Mid-Hants Railway, ShopMobility and Heart of Hayling Boxing, to help raise awareness of all they do for the benefit of others.”

Message from the editor

Thank you for reading this story. We really appreciate your support.

Please help us to continue bringing you all the trusted news from your area by sharing this story or by following our Facebook page.