Museum News

We’ve won the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service 2016

By 2 June 2016January 13th, 2021No Comments

Our fantastic team of volunteers has been awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service 2016!

Our volunteers, who work in the community to stimulate public interest in historical crafts and rural buildings, have been honoured with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service – the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK!

Queen's Award for Voluntary Service

The Museum’s remarkable band of 600 volunteers are our lifeblood – without them we simply could not exist as the inspirational and popular visitor attraction that we are today. Volunteers are an integral part of the team that runs the Museum and our excellence is the product of their hard work.

Volunteers engage in all manner of tasks, from interpretation to maintenance, gardening to guided tours, supporting the Museum’s theme of excellence in all that we do.

Our Designated Collection of 50 rescued vernacular buildings, 15,000 artefacts and 40-acre downland site benefits the community at large, who come from near and far, including 14,000 children who visit from over 300 schools in West Sussex and adjoining counties.

Charlie Thwaites, Visitor & Volunteer Services Manager and Vic Constable, Volunteer, attended a garden party at Buckingham Palace on 19 May, where they met the Queen and other winners of this year’s award.

The Weald & Downland Open Air Museum is one of 193 charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups to receive the prestigious award this year. The number of awards given to groups this year is slightly higher than last year, showing that the voluntary sector is thriving and full of innovative ideas to tackle community challenges.

The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service is the highest award given to local volunteer groups across the UK to recognise outstanding work in their communities. The awards were created in 2002 to celebrate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee and winners are announced each year on 2 June – the anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation.

We will be presented with the award itself by the Lord Lieutenant of West Sussex later this summer.

Commenting on the award win, Martin Purslow, CEO of the Weald & Downland Open Air Museum, said:

“I am immensely proud of this achievement for our 600-strong band of volunteers. I recently joined the Museum as CEO, and the volunteers’ invaluable contribution to the success of our organisation has been evident from day one. This Award is a testament to their hard work and dedication to engaging the visiting public and wider community in the Museum’s collection of rescued vernacular buildings. Volunteering is a fantastic way to become involved in your community and to give something back, through sharing knowledge and skills, whilst learning something new. Anyone interested in joining our friendly team as a volunteer is invited to make contact with our Visitor & Volunteer Services Manager here at the Museum.”


  1. Lord Lieutenants are the monarch’s representatives in their lieutenancy. There are 98 Lord Lieutenants who cover all areas of the UK.
  1. This year there were 193 winners of The Queen’s Award Voluntary Service from across the UK. More information on the winners can be found at the London Gazette https://www.thegazette.co.uk/
  1. Any group of two or more people that has participated in voluntary work for more than three years can be nominated for the award. Full details on how to nominate are available at http://qavs.direct.gov.uk/
  1. Nominations for the 2017 awards close on 16 September 2016 and should be made online via https://www.gov.uk/queens-award-for-voluntary-service/overview