Four Surrey Hills Society volunteers took our Surrey Hills
stall to the Cranleigh Carnival on Saturday 29th June, as part of
our summer shows programme of raising awareness with local people about the
extent and the importance of the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural
Chris Howard, Vice President of the Society and lead
volunteer for the Cranleigh Carnival said, “I always look forward to the
Cranleigh Carnival. It is such a friendly, happy community event, with so much
to see and to do. I think the Carnival parade really makes the whole day. The
local schools, Girl Guides and other local organisations dress up to a theme
each year – this year being Cowboys and Indians. Best of all though is the two samba bands
that play every year. So colourful to watch!”
“It is such a nice way to spend a Saturday, talking to nice
people about a wonderful topic – our precious Surrey Hills,” she added.
If you would like to consider offering to volunteer for the Surrey Hills Society Shows programme over the summer season – even just once a year at your local show, please contact: Jean4surreyhills@gmail.com to discuss further.
June it was announced that the Surrey Hills
Society had received The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service (QAVS).This
award honours the outstanding contribution of all our Surrey Hills Society
volunteers in their support for the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural
Beauty (AONB). It is the equivalent of an MBE and, as it states on the
official website, “It is granted to exceptional volunteer groups across the UK
who are making a positive impact on the lives of others.”
selection process is rigorous, looking at all aspects of what the Society has
been doing in recent years and how it achieves the objectives for which it was
created. But more than these processes,
it is the people who make our organisation such a success. We identified that there are currently
approximately 70 active volunteers who give their time freely to support the
Society across a range of activities. Amongst
these are our Trustees and management team, members of various sub-teams who
deal with communications, events, our newsletter, membership, support at shows,
finance, administration and so on. These people are the life blood of the
Society and their work enables all our members – and those that we connect with
through all our activities – to enjoy, enhance and conserve the Surrey Hills AONB.
But it is not only our current band of volunteers to whom we dedicate this Award success. We could never have created such as successful and vibrant charity if it had not been for the hard work and foresight of those who helped establish the Society and have supported us throughout the years. Many names come to mind but three in particular deserve a special mention.
Our founding chairman – Neil Maltby – steered us through our first three years and is now our President. Neil’s contacts and enthusiasm gave us the firm foundations from which we are still benefiting.
June Robinson came on board as a paid administrator but did far more hours as a volunteer than she ever did in return for payment. June not only managed the Chairman and Trustees and kept the organisation pointing in the right direction but she was also the “go to” person when we needed input on Arts related matters or contacts in the area. Added to that, June was such a highly motivated volunteer that she was a major player in driving the Society forward through those early years. She famously said that she would have finished her job when she had made herself redundant. By that she meant that all her work had been passed on to competent volunteers. She succeeded and moved on to other activities – but is still a very supportive member.
Another founder member who had a major impact on the direction of the Society was Graham Butler who, sadly, died recently. Graham was the first chairman of our Events team and it was he who instigated the early elements of our walks programme which now goes from strength to strength.
his breadth of knowledge gained via his role with the Ramblers and similar
organisations, enabled us to kick start our events programme and create
activities which our members wanted to take part in. This then provided an engine to drive
membership growth and support the rest of our work.
the years, many volunteers have been part of what makes the Society special and
we thank all of them for their contributions.
One of the things which differentiates the Surrey Hills Society from
many other charities and volunteer groups is that our remit is to promote, and
conserve the Surrey Hills AONB but we don’t own or have responsibility for any
land. Thus we are able to work with, and
support, any other relevant organisations across the AONB to our mutual
benefit. As an “umbrella” organisation
we can work with other charities (large or small) and are quite happy for our
members to head off and work with them if they find a topic of interest. For example, we have members who volunteer
with the National Trust in various roles – in some cases as the result of an
interest triggered by one of our visits.
Another one took part in a visit to a therapy garden at Dorking, joined
their team and this year that group has also been awarded the QAVS. There are many more examples of our members
becoming volunteers either with us or with partner organisations. The key point is that all of them are doing
things which they enjoy and that benefit the long term future of the Surrey
come from all age groups and backgrounds, with different skill sets and with
differing interests or amounts of free time.
We have opportunities for all of them to help grow the Society so that
we can show to the world that not only were we good enough to get the Queens
Award for Voluntary Service in 2019 but that we are using it as a launch pad to
get even better and more successful in future years.
A massive “Thank You” and “Congratulations” to all our volunteers – past and present.
than 70 Surrey Hills Society volunteers have been recognised for their
outstanding contributions in support of the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural
Beauty, as a result of the Surrey Hills Society receiving The Queen’s Award for
Voluntary Service, which is the equivalent of an MBE for volunteer groups.
The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service is the highest award given to local volunteer groups across the UK to recognise outstanding work done in their own communities. It was created in 2002 to celebrate
the anniversary of HM The Queen’s Coronation.
Hills Society volunteers promote this special protected landscape in many
different ways, ranging from:
our stall at local shows across the county, handing out free walks leaflets and
showcasing the special attractions of the area
talks to other groups and organisations
events to educate our members and residents about the area
free walks across the county
and promoting the work of other related charities
volunteers share their passion for everything to do with the Surrey Hills –
from its wonderful flora and fauna and rare habitats to its unique culture and
heritage, as well as its leisure opportunities. They also collaborate with
other organisations across the Surrey Hills to raise funds for agreed
worthwhile projects within the area, which benefits both wildlife and the
residents of Surrey.
all the award-winning volunteers, former Vice Chairman, Ken Bare and his wife
Angela Hume, who is also a volunteer with the Surrey Hills, attended a Royal
Garden Party at Buckingham Palace recently to celebrate the charity’s success.
Along with Chris Howard, Ken is probably the most well-known volunteer with the
Society, as he has been the lead at shows and fetes across Surrey for the last
ten years and is also the main public speaker for the talks programme that is
delivered to a variety of organisations across the south east.
said: “It was such a privilege to be invited to Buckingham Palace. Being a
representative for all the volunteers across the Surrey Hills was a great
honour. It was a wonderful occasion and we were lucky enough to have a
beautiful sunny day to enjoy the magnificent garden at its best.”
all volunteers from the charity will be celebrating later this year, when the
Surrey Hills Society will be presented with the award by Michael More-Molyneux,
Lord-Lieutenant of Surrey.
Jackson, Chairman of the Society, said: “We are absolutely delighted to
receive this Queen’s Award, which recognises the huge voluntary contribution
this relatively young charity has made to this county. I am so pleased that our
volunteers have been given the recognition that they deserve and we look
forward to continuing to promote the iconic and distinctive landscape of the
Surrey Hills and to help discover and conserve our Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty”.
Vice President, Chris Howard, who was Chairman of the Society for seven years
and stood down only last year said “We hope our volunteers feel extremely proud
of the recognition that this award represents. They have all been so wonderful
to work with and many have become my dearest friends”. Chris added: “I would
recommend volunteering with the Surrey Hills Society to anyone who shares a
passion for the Surrey Hills’ unique landscape
and wants to learn more about this wonderful countryside on their doorstep.”
Surrey Hills Society Walk Leaders Pete Lambert, Chris Howard
and Ken Bare led 21 walkers along the North Downs Way National Trail from
Farnham to Chilworth, as part of this year’s Farnham Walking Festival.
The North Downs Way is one of 15 nationally designated
trails in the UK, which covers 153 miles from Farnham to Canterbury. Farnham
Walking Festival is now in its third year. The Surrey Hills Society has led a
walk along the trail each year as part of the festival.
Walk Leader Chris Howard said “We are delighted to support
the Farnham Walking Festival and provide this walk each year. It is such an interesting walk, covering 14 miles
of varied terrain from flat sandy farmland at the start, through woodlands and
pretty villages like Puttenham, before climbing the Downs towards Guildford at
the ruined chapel of St Catherine’s. After crossing the river the route passes
over Shalford Park and up into the picturesque woodlands of the Chantries. The
final ascent of the day is to St Martha’s Chapel, where you are rewarded with
fantastic views over the Tillingbourne Valley. The walk finishes by following a
path through the ruined Gunpowder Mills of Chilworth.”
The day came to its end with a relaxing drink at the Percy Arms Pub to finish off the day before returning to Farnham via the adjacent train station.
Discover and help conserve our Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty