STAFF and volunteers from a Hampshire historical rail line have received the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.

HM Lord-Lieutenant of Hampshire, Nigel Atkinson presented the award to the Watercress Line in Alresford during a special presentation on Monday, February 27.

The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service is the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK, equivalent to an MBE for an individual. It was awarded to the Watercress Line in last year’s Platinum Jubilee Honours List, but the presentation was postponed following the Queen’s death in September.

President of the Watercress Line, Richard Lacey, told the Chronicle: “I think we’re all over the moon to win this award. I mean, it’s just such a significant milestone in our history. And it really plays to everything that’s gone on here over the last nearly 50 years now, from very humble beginnings, and all driven by volunteers.

READ MORE: Alan Titchmarsh cuts the ribbon on heritage railway’s fine dining service

“And the lengths in which groups have gone to drive the railway forward is quite incredible, so I think it’s quite incredible. So, I think it’s a fantastic award which recognises all of that.”

Meanwhile, Mr Atkinson said: “They’ve done amazingly well, and if you look back at their history since 1974 and I just can’t see the idea of some people buying a bit of bed and then laying six-and-a-half miles of track and then repairing four derelict stations.

“So, the volunteers really won this award. And I was just chatting with them in the tea-room just now and they are all so enthusiastic, that’s what I love. And there’s a chap in there who said to me ‘This is my grandson’, so we’ve now begun to get inter-generational.”

SEE ALSO: Charity champion completes 60 marathons for pair of hospices

Two volunteers from the railway will attend a Royal Garden Party at Buckingham Palace, along with other recipients of last year’s Award.

The Watercress Line was one of 244 local charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups to receive the late Queen’s award last 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.

To find out more about volunteering at the Watercress Line visit