Watts Gallery Volunteers Win Queens Award for Voluntary Service

Posted by Admin on 13 Jun 2012, 11:06 a.m.

Watts Gallery’s 300 volunteers are celebrating having won the prestigious Queens Award for Voluntary Service. Recognised as the MBE for groups of volunteers who work in their local community for the benefit of others, Watts Gallery’s volunteers discovered that their commitment and tireless efforts had been commended by Her Majesty at a special Jubilee Tea Party held on Saturday in the gardens of Limnerslease, home of Watts Gallery’s founders, the eminent Victorian artist G.F. Watts OM RA (1817 – 1904) and his wife, the artist Mary Watts (1849 – 1938).

Last year, Watts Gallery benefitted from almost 10,000 volunteer hours, with 115 hours each week provided by stewards alone. It is their generosity that enables Watts Gallery to open its doors to visitors every day. The Gallery’s volunteers bring, share and have the opportunity to acquire skills in, amongst others, event management, marketing, fundraising, gardening, learning, research, conservation, pottery and costume making.

From stewarding in the Gallery - welcoming more than 50,000 visitors who have come to Compton since Watts Gallery reopened last year – to assisting with pioneering art workshops that are transforming the lives of prisoners, young offenders and excluded groups to act as a catalyst in building self-confidence to bring positive change, Watts Gallery’s volunteers are the lifeblood of the organisation.

Commenting, Watts Gallery’s Director, Perdita Hunt, said: “This accolade is a testament to the enormous contribution made by our wonderful volunteers. Their unwavering support has played a huge part in restoring this national gallery in the heart of a village and is vital in helping us to uphold the vision of the Gallery’s founders to provide Art for All.”

“We are so very grateful Her Majesty for recognising this incredible achievement, to those members of the public who nominated Watts Gallery and, above all, to our incredible volunteers, whose selfless support continues to make such a difference to so many.”

Commenting, Anne Milton MP, who announced the Award at the Jubilee Party, said: “It is so wonderful to be able to announce this Award to all the fantastic volunteers that work so hard to keep this gallery running for visitors. Volunteering is such a great opportunity to meet new people and is essential for a strong and supportive community, so it is great to see the volunteer’s work recognised by Her Majesty the Queen.”

Watts Gallery Trustee, Emma Verey, said: “G.F. and Mary Watts recognised the important role of volunteering and apprenticeships in building communities. The Watts Chapel - created by Mary along with 73 Compton villagers who attended her regular Terra Cotta Modelling Classes - the Compton Potters’ Arts Guild and Watts Gallery - with its hostel accommodation for Apprentice Potters – are a legacy of this vision, recalled more recently through the tremendous contribution made by volunteers to the successful restoration of Watts Gallery.”

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank Watts Gallery’s volunteers. You are our ambassadors and a priceless asset.”

Since Watts Gallery reopened last summer following a major restoration which received funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and many generous individuals, trusts and foundations, it has become Overall Winner in the 2011 Guildford Design Awards, has been Commended by the Civic Trust, Highly Commended by Museums + Heritage and is shortlisted for the 2012 Art Fund Prize.

Celebrating its 10th anniversary in Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee year, The Queens Award for Voluntary Service recognises outstanding voluntary contributions and sets the national benchmark for excellence in volunteering, with the work of those awarded being judged to be of the highest standard. Watts Gallery’s volunteers were selected from groups across the UK nominated by members of the public who have been helped personally or witnessed the benefits of the group’s work in their community.

If you would like to volunteer at Watts Gallery, please contact Alex Prince on 01483 810235 or email visitorservices@wattsgallery.org.uk.