Garden party honours volunteers and carers

Viscount Ridley with Muriel Harris and Marion Kearney at the garden party.
 Picture by Jane Coltman
Viscount Ridley with Muriel Harris and Marion Kearney at the garden party. Picture by Jane Coltman

A special garden party was hosted by the Duchess of Northumberland last Thursday afternoon to thank carers and volunteers in the county.

The event was laid on by the Duchess, in her role as Lord Lieutenant of Northumberland, to recognise the valuable contribution that volunteers and carers make to the local community.

Representatives of the Border Sticks Association from Morpeth.
 Picture by Jane Coltman

Representatives of the Border Sticks Association from Morpeth. Picture by Jane Coltman

The garden party was staged at The Alnwick Garden and 300 volunteers and carers were invited, along with their partners/guests.

This year’s celebration was the fourth of its kind and is thought to be the biggest in the region.

Fittingly, the event took place during National Carers Week 2017.

During the event, and on behalf of the Queen, the Duchess presented The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service to three voluntary organisations: Glendale Agricultural Society, Northumbria Blood Bikes and Prudhoe Youth Charity Shop.

Susan Clark, Kevin Scovell, John Robson and Helen Towers from Ellington Allotment Association.
Picture by Jane Coltman

Susan Clark, Kevin Scovell, John Robson and Helen Towers from Ellington Allotment Association. Picture by Jane Coltman

The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service is the highest award given to volunteer groups across the UK for outstanding work done in their local communities.

The Duchess said: “There are so many extremely generous and extraordinary individuals in Northumberland who give up their time, selflessly, to help others in need, and frequently go unnoticed. This was our way of saying thank you to them for the really valuable work they do.”

One of the volunteers to be invited to the event was 84-year-old Muriel Harris, from Morpeth.

She has been involved with the Practical Compassion for Destitute Children group – a charity dedicated to serving children in crisis in the Holy Land – for two decades and has been going to Palestine to help for the last 14 years.

Representatives from SSAFA Northumberland and the Oswin Project, which supports ex-offenders.
 Picture by Jane Coltman

Representatives from SSAFA Northumberland and the Oswin Project, which supports ex-offenders. Picture by Jane Coltman

Muriel, who was recently presented with a British Empire Medal, said: “It is great to be at the garden party. It is a great way of getting to know all sorts of different people.”

Peter Dawson, from Durham, was representing the Morpeth-based Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Research and Relief Fund.

He is a trustee at the charity and his wife, Judith, has MS. He said: “It is a great honour to be invited to the garden party. It is a very important event and it is great to see the number of different carers and charities here. It is a great that the Duchess is honouring carers and volunteers in this way.”

Susan Clark, from the Ellington Allotment Association, was another to be invited.

Judith and Peter Dawson from MS Research and Relief. 
Picture by Jane Coltman

Judith and Peter Dawson from MS Research and Relief. Picture by Jane Coltman

She said: “I think events like this all important, to give a bit back to those who give a lot.

“We have 40 plots at the moment and 87 people involved.

“We have disabled plots for disabled people and a community garden for people to come sit and have a chat.”

The garden party was sponsored by numerous businesses, including Greggs.

Nominations for next year’s garden party are welcome for charities or carers who have not been represented before.

Email a short paragraph explaining the reason for your nomination, together with the title, full name and address of your nominee, to gardenparty@alnwickgarden.com

Nominees should be either volunteers or unpaid carers, living or volunteering in Northumberland.