A Garstang charity has been awarded by the Queen for their “outstanding voluntary contribution”.
Kepple Lane Park Trust was one of five Lancashire-based winners of The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.
The registered charity transformed a once waste disposal site into a place which has won numerous awards including Green Flag status.
The former brownfield site was owned by Garstang Town Council, but in the nine years since 2007 it has come to boast a toddler playground, a play area for five to nine-year-olds, two sensory gardens, an outdoor gym/trim trail, a community orchard, a community veg bed, a performance stage, a bog garden, tranquil seating areas, a youth shelter, a willow walk-way, picnic tables, basketball hoop, football nets and more.
The group has also had various meetings over the years with a host of local groups including youth groups, churches, Wyre Council, schools and the police to find out how locals wanted to see the land used.
It all began when the town council had to pay £6,800 for a special survey of the site. Lancashire County Council then provided drawings of the proposals free of charge and successfully submitted a planning application on behalf of the trust.
Planning permission was gained in April 2011 and work has been carried out in two phases. The trust negotiated a 25-year lease with the Town Council, with a peppercorn rent agreed.
Over the years the number of trustees has grown and they now comprise councillor Gordon Harter, councillor Joe Gilmour, Joan Baptie, Andy Brown and Annette Brown. Youth councillor, Oliver Atkinson has also joined as Youth Liaison.
And the land has achieved many awards including Green Partnership Awards, the Green Flag Award, and a Wyre Together Award.
But now the group has been honoured by the Queen with an award described as “an MBE for groups of volunteers who work in their local community for the benefit of others.”
This prestigious national honour recognises outstanding voluntary contributions and sets the national benchmark for excellence in volunteering, with the work of those awarded being judged to be of the highest standard.
The other Lancashire groups to win the awards were Inter Madrassah Organisation based in Blackburn, Braille IT serving communities in East Lancashire, North West Blood Bikes who cover the whole of Lancashire and the West Lancashire-based Skelmersdale Mens-Aces Football Club.
Those receiving this year’s award were selected from groups nominated by members of the public, who have been helped personally or witnessed the benefits of a group’s work in their community.
Each of the winning groups will receive a certificate signed by The Queen and an exclusive commemorative crystal, presented by Her Majesty’s representative in Lancashire, Lord Shuttleworth KG KCVO, at a special ceremony arranged by the Lieutenancy Office.
Each group also received an invitation for representatives to attend a royal garden party at Buckingham Palace.
Lord Shuttleworth said: “This year’s result makes a total of 43 winners from Lancashire since the award was inaugurated by HM The Queen in her Golden Jubilee Year in 2002.
“The awards, which are the highest national honour available to a voluntary organisation, are a reflection of the substantial amount of work undertaken by these voluntary groups in the county.”