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The remarkable group of volunteers based in the Saddleworth and Lees villages who each year organise and run its iconic Whit Friday brass band competitions are to be honoured with The Queen's Award for Voluntary Service, the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK.
Seen as the equivalent of the MBE, it is in recognition of the countless hours of work and organisation of around 300 volunteers involved in presenting the iconic Whit Friday brass band contests at eleven venues in Denshaw, Delph, Dobcross, Diggle, Uppermill, Greenfield, Friezland, Lydgate, Grotton, Lees and Springhead and Scouthead and Austerlands.
The group is one of 241 different category winners to receive the prestigious award that recognises the work undertaken by volunteer groups to benefit their local communities.
Created in 2002 to celebrate the Queen's Golden Jubilee, award recipients are honoured on June 2nd each year — the anniversary of the Queen's Coronation.
4BR was informed that representatives will receive the award and certificate signed by Her Majesty the Queen from the Lord Lieutenant of Greater Manchester, Sir Warren Smith, later this summer.
We talked to spokesperson Bob Rodgers who told 4BR: "We are honoured to have been successfully nominated for this award recognising the year-round work that is undertaken to provide the 'greatest free show on earth'.
He added: "To the visitors who arrive on the evening, it appears to 'just happen'. However, throughout the area thousands of hours are put into planning and preparation.
We are indebted to Oldham Council for the infrastructure and advice they provide that only those involved in the running are aware of and the financial support through the Saddleworth & Lees District Partnership, not to mention the numerous businesses who sponsor the individual contests."
To the visitors who arrive on the evening, it appears to 'just happen'. However, throughout the area thousands of hours are put into planning and preparationBob Rodgers
Bob concluded: "However, we are all looking forward to continuing with this great show in 2022, when hopefully all our banding activity will be back to normal."