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Queen's Award honour for Cullen Volunteer Group

By Alan Beresford

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A GROUP of Cullen volunteers have been honoured for their commitment to their local community.

Feeling on top of the world after news of their Queen's Award are CVg members (from left) Alex Donn, Barry Addison, Willie Jappy, Bruce Porter and chairman Stan Slater. Picture: Daniel Forsyth
Feeling on top of the world after news of their Queen's Award are CVg members (from left) Alex Donn, Barry Addison, Willie Jappy, Bruce Porter and chairman Stan Slater. Picture: Daniel Forsyth

Cullen Volunteer Group (CVG) have been handed the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service for their outstanding service since they were formed in 2016. It is the highest award a voluntary body can receive.

Their most high profile project to date has been restoring Castlehill from an overgrown area to a landmark that overlooks the town and incorporates a network of footpaths and information panels, as well as the provision of a viewpoint setting with benches

A long list of achievements includes: Creating and developing footpaths, maintaining amenity spaces, including those that previously had been looked after by the local authority; Providing seating in recreational areas; Providing information boards to help educate residents and visitors about local history and heritage; Working with local groups such as the local school, care homes and heritage society on joint projects; Supporting groups such as Rotary by providing personnel for marshalling charity walks, planting crocuses for Purple4Polio and so on.

The group have successfully maintained and developed public assets and spaces in Cullen for the benefit of the community and the many visitors to the area.

One of those delighted with the news of the award was Stan Slater, the CVG chairman.

"The award is great news for the team who are out there doing things for the community in all weathers," he said.

"It's really for these people who go above and beyond all the time, not only doing things but thinking up new projects.

"We were lucky that we had started doing the paths before the pandemic hit, hopefully it provided people with some nice walks during lockdown.

"I was aware we'd been nominated but didn't really think we'd win. As a group we're not after recognition, they're a really good bunch."

Mr Slater added that the group would be delighted to hear from anyone who could donate the use of a sit-on grass cutter to help with CVG's grass cutting commitments.

CVG have been joined on the winner's list by Aberchirder Men's Shed.

Congratulating both groups on their achievements, the Lord Lieutenant of Banffshire, Andrew Simpson, said: “I am delighted that the work of both the Aberchirder and District Men’s Shed and the Cullen volunteers has been recognised in this way.

"Both groups have made a significant difference to the lives of people in their communities – not least during the period of the pandemic. They are both very worthy winners of this prestigious award.

"During our assessment visits we were impressed by their commitment to serving the people in their area. I very much hope that we will see more of the excellent groups in historic Banffshire nominated for the award in the future.”

Moray MP Douglas Ross desribed the work done by the CVG as "incredible".

He continued: “Members of the Cullen Volunteer Group thoroughly deserve this award, having worked tirelessly on a huge number of projects to improve the village for local residents and the many tourists to the area.

“I have seen for myself the incredible work done by the volunteers in creating the coastal footpath, and the landmark and footpaths at Castlehill, which give a fantastic view over the village and out to sea.

“Not only did the Cullen Volunteer Group provide the paths for local enjoyment, but they have also installed local history and heritage information boards along the way. In addition, there are many benches along the walks so that people can stop and enjoy the wonderful scenery.

“I know that the group also works with local schools, care homes and the heritage society on joint projects and, among many other activities, the volunteers are actively involved in litter picking to keep Cullen beautiful.

“I understand that the Cullen Volunteer Group will receive their award later in the summer from Andrew Simpson, Lord-Lieutenant of Banffshire, and I pass on my congratulations to all the volunteers in the group who do such outstanding work for their community.”

CVG's achievement was also hailed by local councillors Theresa Coull and Donald Gatt.

Councillor Coull described news of the award as "wonderful".

"I am delighted to hear that the Cullen Volunteer Group has been honoured with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the highest award a voluntary group can receive, and is really well deserved," she said.

"The group works really hard to maintain and tidy areas around Cullen which not only benefits the residents but also the large amount of visitors to the area.

"Castlehill was developed by the group, making the pathways up to the Castlehill which provides spectacular views over Cullen, this was a huge project for a volunteer group but has created a walk for everyone to enjoy. The group covers a range of work in Cullen but they also work with local groups and also provide support to events.

"They have given many hours of their time for the good of others and it is wonderful to hear that they have been rewarded for this.

"Cullen has certainly benefited from the volunteer group, if there is something to be done, they just go and do it.

"It is a proud moment and a great honour for the Volunteer Group to receive the Queen’s Award but is also an honour for the whole town."

Councillor Gatt added: “The huge amount of varied, tough and skilled work undertaken by the members of the Cullen Volunteer Group are rightly deserving of high praise, their contribution to the local community through many projects including Castle Hill and many footpaths to the enhancement of the local area is of great benefit to local people and visitors alike.

"My congratulations to all the volunteers for their community spirit and dedication, they are a credit to Cullen and themselves, well done.”

The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service aims to recognise outstanding work by volunteer groups to benefit their local communities. It 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. Award winners this year are wonderfully diverse.

Representatives from the CVG will receive the award crystal and certificate from Mr Simpson later this summer. Furthermore, two volunteers from the group will attend a garden party at Holyrood House Palace in July 2022, depending on restrictions at the time, along with other recipients of this year’s award.

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