The Brooklands Centre in Newport Pagnell receives Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service

Posted 2nd June 2020

Everyone at The Brooklands Centre in Newport Pagnell is delighted to announce that the Centre has been awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service (QAVS), which is the equivalent to an MBE for voluntary groups.

This prestigious award is the highest of its kind in the UK and recognises exceptional contributions made to local communities by groups of volunteers who devote their time for the benefit of others.

The Brooklands Centre is an independent, self-financing registered charity, managed and run by volunteers. It has been providing services for older people in the Newport Pagnell area since the 1950s.

Its aim is to help people retain their independence, live in their own homes and remain in the local community. It helps to maintain and improve people’s physical and mental well-being, reduce social isolation and support those living with dementia.

With its motto of ‘FOOD, FUN, FRIENDS for the over-55s’, Brooklands is a hive of activity, providing day centre groups that offer food and activities, special interest clubs, learning-based activities, trips and visits, and treatments that require an appointment.

The Centre is used by around 300 users, and over 70 volunteers contribute around 360 volunteer hours per week – spending time with users, cooking meals, preparing and serving refreshments, running activities, organising groups, driving and escort duties, and providing admin support.

In addition to the day clubs (for 30 members) operating three days a week, there are other groups including two seated exercise groups, tai-chi, a walking group, an art club, a friends group, a drop-in facility offering light refreshments, a bingo group, a gardening club, a book club, a singing group, a monthly lunch club and a group for those dealing with dementia and their carers.

Volunteers also provide transport for those who need it to get to the Centre, by driving the Centre’s own mini-buses and undertaking travel escort duties.

Some volunteers have been with the Centre for up to 40 years and two are over 90 years old! One commented: “The Brooklands Centre is a wonderful place to go. It’s so friendly and full of smiling faces; there’s such a fantastic atmosphere. I get on well with the other volunteers and I love to help out.”

Brooklands’ volunteers continue to help out during the coronavirus pandemic. Many are keeping in touch with the Centre’s users by phone and providing support where it’s needed.

The Centre was nominated for the award by Councillor Paul Day, Mayor of Newport Pagnell, who commented: “I was delighted to nominate The Brooklands Centre for the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, especially when my mayoral charity of the year was Dementia UK. The Centre is a wonderful facility and it provides fantastic services for older people in the local area. Its team of 70 volunteers is a testament to Newport Pagnell’s community spirit and is very much part of what makes the town so special.”

The nomination was also supported by some of the Centre’s users. Talking about its volunteers, one said: The Volunteers are brilliant. They organise and help run lots of groups and clubs. They’re friendly and kind. They obviously get a lot out of giving up their time but they’re not thinking about themselves. Their only concern is the welfare of those using the Centre and how they can help. If you have any worries, there’s always someone who will listen sympathetically to your problems and do their best to help.”

When assessing the unique facility that is The Brooklands Centre, the QAVS judges were particularly impressed by the scope of activities, the friendly atmosphere, the value brought to people’s lives and the large number of cheerful and caring volunteers.

Chair of Trustees, Catherine Hall, commented: “We are extremely proud and honoured to receive such a prestigious award. It’s a much-deserved reward for our team of 70 wonderful volunteers who give their time freely and whose outstanding work has contributed so much to our Centre.

“We are incredibly grateful and so privileged to have such a dedicated team. We cannot thank them enough for enabling us to achieve so much and making the work of the Centre possible. We simply couldn’t function without them. Thank you to each and every one of them.”

Representatives of The Brooklands Centre will receive a certificate and a commemorative crystal from Sir Henry Aubrey-Fletcher, the Lord Lieutenant of Buckinghamshire, later this summer and the Trustees will organise a party to celebrate, once it’s safe to do so. Furthermore, two volunteers from the Centre will attend a garden party at Buckingham Palace in May 2021, along with other recipients of this year’s award from across the country.