Amberley Museum volunteers presented with the King’s Award for Voluntary Service

​​Hundreds of volunteers gathered at Amberley Museum for the presentation of the King’s Award for Voluntary Service by the Lord-Lieutenant of West Sussex, Lady Emma Barnard.

Lady Emma was given a tour of the museum on Friday, May 3, before the presentation and was able to chat to many of the volunteers along the way. Joining her were a number of special guests, including former High Sheriff of West Sussex Andy Bliss and Arundel and South Downs MP Andrew Griffith.

She met volunteer Peter Scarratt in the printing works, who explained they are still using the old machines to print. Lady Emma told him: "I think it is so brilliant that you are keeping it alive. Children are fascinated and they can't believe it. Absolutely incredible."

At the Worshipful Company of Plumbers, she spoke with volunteer Peter Cheesman about the bespoke planting trough they made for Sandringham for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and in the walking stick shop, volunteer David Lawrence showed her a special stick where one wood had grown over another, creating a spiral effect.

Lady Emma was moved by the story of a tandem which volunteers at the cycle shop restored. Richard Ratcliffe explained the Wasp made by Sun Cycles and Fittings Co had been owned by Mr and Mrs C. Hughes and they rode it all over England. After it was restored at the museum by Allen Beach, the couple visited in 2016 and were thrilled to see it in such fine condition.

Lady Emma was shown the museum's most recent acquisition, a Dennis Falcon bus in a fragile state that was donated by David Mulpeter and will be undergoing restoration. Richard Vernon, chair of trustees, said the museum was very proud of the 1939 ex-Southdown Bus, despite its condition.

In the wheelwrights, volunteers Brian Tamplin and John Clements spoke about the building and some of the items they had made, then it was on to the Connected Earth hall to see various displays relating to communication.

The guests were given a ride on a vintage South Down bus, stopping off at the fire station for Lady Emma to see the Merryweather trailer pump she has loaned to the museum from her home at Parham House. Her great-grandparents purchased the fire fighting equipment shortly after moving into the estate in 1922 and it was found in a barn in 2018.

Hundreds more volunteers were waiting at the museum's Limeburners Cafe for the presentation of the award, which is equivalent to an MBE and the highest honour for voluntary organisations.

Lady Emma said: "I've had to most wonderful afternoon. It's given me such joy and I've become a complete child again, enjoying everything you've got here. This museum warms everyone's heart who comes here because it is, without a doubt, held together by your love, your care and your attention to detail.

"It's quirky and it's wonderful and it's individual, held together by all of you who have such clear passion for what you do."

She said the award was 'such an achievement', as the award is rigorously assessed. "This is no mean feat and you deserve every little, tiny piece of that beautiful crystal award."

Deputy Lieutenant Neil Hart read out the Warrant of Award on behalf of the King, who referenced the volunteers' outstanding work.

Mr Vernon said it was the most important and memorable day in the history of the museum, which was opened 45 years ago. The award was for the volunteers and the museum was immensely grateful for their time, expertise, commitment and ideas.

He added: “I am thrilled that the dedication, commitment and contribution of Amberley Museum volunteers has been recognised through the prestigious King’s Award for Voluntary Service. I am always struck by the variety of skills and knowledge our volunteers bring to the museum, which are shared with other volunteers and to the wider visiting public.”