We have been honoured with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK.
We are thrilled with this honour and what it represents for our amazing team of volunteers. 90 volunteers help with us with our work here, many of whom have moved through the project as co-workers themselves and then returned as volunteers. This Award is a huge testament to the hundreds of hours that they give each week, of their own time, to help others on the path to better mental health. The entire project was once wholly volunteer led, when it was initiated by Jim Sikorski back in 2002, and volunteers remain integral to every part of our operations and delivery.
This Award is highly prestigious, known as the ‘MBE for Volunteer Groups’ and we are one of 230 charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups to receive it this year after being nominated in the summer of 2019. 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. Recipients are announced each year on 2nd June, the anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation.
Other Award winners this year are wonderfully diverse. They include volunteer groups from across the UK, including a community shop in Cornwall, an environmental group in Swansea, a group working with refugees and vulnerable people in Stirling and a thriving community arts centre in County Down. You can find out more about other recipients this year by following @QueensAwardVS on twitter or viewing them online here.
Representatives of Sydenham Garden will receive the Award from Sir Kenneth Olisa OBE, Lord Lieutenant of Greater London later this summer. Furthermore, two volunteers from Sydenham Garden will attend a garden party at Buckingham Palace in May 2021, along with other recipients of this year’s Award.
Kenton Brown, one of our wonderful volunteers said, “I volunteer with the BAME group, running short gardening sessions and using gardening as a tool to support peoples mental health. I feel welcomed at the garden. Feeling welcomed makes me want to help, I have experienced my own mental health difficulties and know where some of the people are coming from. I enjoy doing it because I know the people who come are benefiting like I have. I feel very happy that Sydenham Garden has won the QAVS Award. Sydenham Garden has given me hope and a future.”
Julia Brandreth, our Chair of Trustees said, “I am delighted that our group’s work has been recognised in this way. It is a huge tribute to the hard work and outstanding commitment of our volunteers who make Sydenham Garden a success in so many different ways. I am particularly pleased that this Award has been received now as it gives me the opportunity to thank my predecessor as chair, Jim Sikorski, who founded Sydenham Garden along with a small group of local residents in 2002. Their vision and dedication turned a neglected nature reserve into the wonderful therapeutic resource we have today.”