Prestigious Queen's Award for Friends of Buxton Station group
The Friends of Buxton Station (FoBS) group has been honoured with The Queen's Award for Voluntary Service – the highest award volunteers can receive in the UK.
The group is one of 241 charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups receiving the award, which recognises outstanding work by volunteer groups to benefit their local communities.
The award was created in 2002 to celebrate The Queen’s Golden Jubilee. Recipients are announced each year on June 2, the anniversary of The Queen’s Coronation.
As well as making Buxton’s railway station more welcoming and comfortable, FoBS have also been active in the community, particularly during the last year when they hosted a large part of the alternative wells dressing festival and put together a Rail Retail Trail leaflet to help local independent businesses.
Dave Carlisle, FoBS Chairman said: “We’re absolutely delighted that our community work has been acknowledged at such a high level. This award pays a fitting and glorious tribute to the hard work and commitment of all our volunteers and those who work with us. It’s a right Royal pat on the back!”
Group representatives will receive the award and certificate from Elizabeth Fothergill, CBE, the first female Lord-Lieutenant of Derbyshire, this summer, while two volunteers will attend a garden party at Buckingham Palace in May 2022.
Louise Potter, Derbyshire’s first High Sheriff to come from Buxton, said: “As the Queen’s local representative, it gives me great pleasure to see her special award go to such dedicated volunteers - they do so much, not only for the station and its surroundings, but also for the town as a whole. I have followed their progress and appreciate the efforts they make on behalf of Buxton people.”
Dr Steve Bradshaw, Director of Buxton Town Team offered his congratulations to the group too and said: “They are infectiously enthusiastic and have a lovely, welcoming, inclusive attitude, which extends friendship to all. Their projects are quirky, environmentally sensitive and locally relevant. It’s fantastic that their hard work has been recognised in this way.”
And High Peak MP, Robert Largan added: “Many congratulations! I’ve met the Friends several times and always been impressed by their commitment to see things through. We are currently working together with the owners of the land next to the station and the Council to persuade them to do something positive with it for the town.”
Becky Styles, Community & Sustainability Manager at Northern Trains Limited said: “So well deserved. We have worked with the Buxton Friends many times and found their innovative approach refreshing. It’s a joy to see what they’re planning to get up to next!”
Community Rail Network chief executive Jools Townsend said: “We’re thrilled the Friends of Buxton Station are deserving recipients of the Queen’s Award.
"This underlines the important role of the community rail movement and station volunteers, helping communities to derive maximum benefit from their local railways and stations. The Friends of Buxton Station are an inspiration for the 1,000+ station friends groups across the UK, with wide-ranging work bringing the community together, promoting sustainable travel and tourism, and improving the local environment for people and nature.”
And Chris Jackson, Regional Director at Northern said: “It is wonderful to see the hard work of Buxton Friends recognised. It has been a pleasure to work together on so many projects and we are excited to continue to do so in future."
The group initially formed in the summer of 2009, campaigning for better rail services before turning their attention to the run down station building and the dilapidated fanlight window, thought to be in danger of collapse at the time.
Pleas to introduce a half-hourly train service to Manchester, to clear away trees blocking the view of the fanlight from the platforms and to improve parking at the station were never met. By summer 2013, the volunteers lost their enthusiasm and the group gradually fell silent.
But then Sue Mellor and Dave Carlisle took over and along with friends Helen and Marc Haywood, approached Buxton Town Team for help.
Since then, a number of projects have taken place, both at the station and in the surrounding area.
Interspersed with practical jobs like litter picking and repainting, they group spruced up the station platforms with oak barrels filled to the brim with plants and large planter units made from old railway sleepers that were full of colourful shrubs.
Public art projects followed on after that thanks to partnership working with University students, Buxton Town Team - who permitted the huge mosaic featuring the Buxton Illustrated Map - and motivated local youngsters like 15-year old Carys Walters, responsible for the 27 metre long mural running the full length of Platform 2!
Joe the Guard proved an inventive commemoration of the old traction maintenance depot just before it was demolished. Joe was built by local artist Andy Hill from scrap metal taken from the site, he stands 2m tall.
Their pioneering spirit doesn’t just focus on art projects, they have won awards for their gardening prowess, community work and sensitive environmental enhancements - a stunning Japanese Garden sits on the site at the end of the tracks, previously covered in rubbish, overgrown self-set trees and oil-coated soil.
Local wildlife has benefitted from the Friends’ help too after they managed the parcel of land on Palace Road, undertaking rewilding work by stacking up cut and fallen branches to rot down and provide food and housing to insects as well as chopping up vegetation for nesting.