Our Royal Visit

Neil Maltby, Gordon Jackson, HRH Earl of Wessex, Chris Howard, Ken Bare

Earl of Wessex presents the Surrey Hills Society with The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service

The Earl of Wessex KG GCVO presented The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service (QAVS) to the Surrey Hills Society on Wednesday 6 November 2019 at a ceremony attended by over 40 of our volunteers.  The presentation took place at Albury Old Saxon Church.  The Award has been presented to the Society for “encouraging people to explore and learn about the special qualities of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty”.  It is the highest award given to local volunteer groups across the UK to recognise outstanding work done in their own communities and was created in 2002 to celebrate the anniversary of HM The Queen’s coronation.

Before presenting the Award, the Earl, HRH Prince Edward, spent time talking to the Society’s volunteers about the work that they do.  He heard about the Heritage Lottery funded Tales of the Tillingbourne project, which sought to encourage various communities along the valley of the River Tillingbourne to engage in the unique and beautiful landscape by researching its industries, promoting heritage trails throughout, capturing local knowledge through oral histories, and monitoring and recording the ecology of the river. Part of the legacy of the project is a permanent display at Shere Museum that includes 7 (1.2m high) puppets, that were specially loaned for the occasion.

The Earl was shown a short play by Nick White of Geeyou entitled “Tales of the Wey”, which the Society hopes to develop as part of a sequel to the Tales of the Tillingbourne Project.

His Royal Highness was also presented with two books.  One entitled, “Our Changing Landscape”, written and researched by Society Vice President Ken Bare, tells how the Surrey Hills AONB came into being 60 years ago and how the area has changed since.  The other “Walks for All Ages” was written by the Society’s other Vice President, Christine Howard and features 20 Surrey Walks ranging from 2 to 6 miles long. 

The Earl heard how we promote the special protected landscape and cultural heritage of the Surrey Hills, through activities such as:

  • manning stalls at local shows handing out free walks leaflets and showcasing the special attractions of the area
  • giving talks to other groups and organisations
  • running local interest events to educate Society members and residents
  • leading free walks across the county
  • supporting and promoting the work of other related charities

Our volunteers share a passion for everything to do with the Surrey Hills – from its wonderful flora and fauna and rare habitats to its unique culture and heritage, and 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.   

A massive “Thank You” and “Congratulations” to all our volunteers – past and present.



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