Queen’s Award for community garden volunteers in Whitley Bay

Friends of Red House Ramble, a group of volunteers based in Whitley Bay have been honoured with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK.  

The group was founded four years ago to manage a corridor of land in Whitley Bay in partnership with North Tyneside Council. 

Members have transformed an impenetrable tangle of trees and brambles into a charming woodland walk opening onto grassed areas.

A log and chipping path now runs the length of the Red House Ramble giving access in all weathers, created by moving over 80 tons of chippings by wheelbarrow.

Chair, Cheryl Savage, accompanied by her husband attended a garden party at Buckingham Palace in May, along with other recipients of this year’s award.

She said: “The Friends of Red House Ramble have endeavoured to create a space which can be enjoyed by the local and wider community while promoting biodiversity, getting to know our neighbours, and making new friends.  We are delighted that our work has been recognised with this prestigious national award.”

Local school children and youth services have helped to plant hundreds of bulbs and native wild flowers which encourage pollinating bees, moths, and butterflies. The habitat for small birds and mammals has also improved through the addition of bird boxes, bug hotels, and edible hedging. 

The group have also been the recipients of the inaugural Love Your Street Award, 2017, the Mayor’s Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Life of the Borough 2018, and have been adjudged Outstanding by the RHS.

North Tyneside’s Elected Mayor, Norma Redfearn CBE, said: “This is a stunning achievement by the Friends and other members of the community and I’d like to thank and congratulate them all on a well-deserved award.

“Although the council has played a supporting role, this is all about what local people can achieve when they work together to improve their area and it would be wonderful if this was to inspire others across the borough.”

Friends of Red House Ramble is one of 281 charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups to receive the prestigious award this year.

The number of nominations and awards has increased year on year since the awards were introduced in 2002, showing that the voluntary sector is thriving and full of innovative ideas to make life better for those around them.

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.

Winners are announced each year on 2 June – the anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation. Award winners this year are wonderfully diverse.  They include volunteers helping people overcome mental health problems through sport, volunteers using caravans as mobile cafe/information centres in geographically remote locations and another group mentoring children who have a parent in prison.

Representatives of the group will receive the award from Susan M Winfield, MBE, Lord Lieutenant of Northumberland later this summer.