How unlikely is this? Two outstanding volunteers, both known to each other but not close friends, living within yards of each other on the same road, Marine Drive in Seaford, have been recognised by Their Majesties The King and The Queen Consort as part of the official Coronation celebrations in conjunction with the Royal Voluntary Service for totally different reasons.
Barbara Mine is Chair of Friends of Bishopstone Station CIC, and has been awarded a Coronation Champions award for her work, together with her fantastic FOBS team on phase 1 of the restoration of the Art Deco station building, thus creating a community space for the local people. This has resulted in a fabulous, inviting community room, previously occupied by a general store, restored into a warm space environment to combat social isolation, during the energy crisis and beyond. All this has resulted in her receiving an invitation to a once-in-a-lifetime experience of the Royal Garden Party at Buckingham Palace.
Our regular gardening contributor, Geoff Stonebanks of 4 Marine Drive, has been opening his garden, Driftwood, and single-handedly organising annual garden trails, raising funds for Macmillan Cancer Support and The Mayor of Seaford’s charities since 2012. He has raised £109,000 for Macmillan through the Brighton to Seaford trail and £16,000 for the Mayor’s charities. Additionally, he has given many volunteering hours to the National Garden Scheme in his roles as Asst County Organiser and Publicity Officer in East & Mid Sussex, as well as raising £31,000 from opening his own garden for the scheme. Full details of his volunteering can be found at www.driftwoodbysea.co.uk
The pair were both guests on the BBC Sussex Breakfast Show this week, Barbara on 2nd May and Geoff on 3rd May, talking about their volunteering experiences. Both Barbara and Geoff have been recognised for their contributions and crowned Coronation Champions. This follows a call out to the nation to nominate their volunteer heroes. Almost 5000 entries were received, with nominations made for individuals aged 14 up to 103.
Barbara said: “It’s been a passion to bring the station at Bishopstone back to life and this is just the icing on the cake.”
Geoff said: “I never dreamed I would get a second invitation to a Royal Garden Party after attending one in 2018. I volunteer because I enjoy it and don’t expect such incredible returns, but when it happens it just takes your breath away.”
He went on to say: “I was completely blown away to learn on 25th April that I had been selected as one of the Coronation Champions. I celebrated my 70th birthday on the 21st April, the date of the late Queen Elizabeth II’s actual birthdate and this news was a real shock. Even more so when I learnt it also included an invite to Buckingham Palace on the 9th May to The King’s Coronation Garden party”.
Barbara attended a garden party on the 3rd May and Geoff goes on the 9th May.
In honour of Their Majesties’ service to the country, the Royal Voluntary Service launched the Coronation Champions Awards for volunteers, an official Coronation project. Together with Her Majesty The Queen Consort, the awards celebrate extraordinary volunteers across the country who have been contributing to their communities. The awards include thousands of people from all over the UK and supporting a range of causes who were nominated and from these nominations, 500 volunteers have been hand-picked by a judging panel presided over by the Queen Consort, and crowned Coronation Champions.
All 500 Coronation Champions will receive a specially designed, official Coronation Champions pin and a signed certificate from His Majesty The King and Her Majesty The Queen Consort and are invited to attend one of the official Coronation celebrations, such as the Windsor Castle Coronation Concert or a Coronation Garden Party.
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