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Friends of Thetford Forest’s work recognised with Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service

PUBLISHED: 06:30 12 October 2017 | UPDATED: 08:12 12 October 2017

Anne Mason, chairman of the Friends of Thetford Forest, is presented with the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service by the Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk, Clare, Countess of Euston. Picture: SONYA DUNCAN

Anne Mason, chairman of the Friends of Thetford Forest, is presented with the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service by the Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk, Clare, Countess of Euston. Picture: SONYA DUNCAN

ARCHANT EASTERN DAILY PRESS (01603) 772434

A volunteer group which has spent more than 20 years helping to look after one of the region’s beauty spots has been presented with a royal award.

The Friends of Thetford Forest are presented with the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2017The Friends of Thetford Forest are presented with the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2017

Since its creation in 1995, the Friends of Thetford Forest (FoTF) have worked hard to increase the understanding, enjoyment and community involvement of the forest.

As a way of recognising the work carried out by the 45 volunteers, staff at the East of England Forestry Commission, which manages the site, nominated the group for the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service (QAVS).

The QAVS is the highest award given to local volunteer groups across the UK and the FoTF were the only voluntary organisation in Suffolk to be awarded the honour this year.

The Friends of Thetford Forest are presented with the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2017The Friends of Thetford Forest are presented with the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2017

Chairman of the group Anne Mason said: “We are absolutely proud beyond words. I think it is a wonderful accolade for the volunteers because it is their commitment and dedication that got this award.”

She added: “We have worked closely with the Forestry Commission over the past 22 years and we can be as much a critical friend as a positive. We seek their advice and they seek ours.

“We have this really respectful relationship with each other.”

Mildenhall Warren Lodge has been cared for by the Friends of Thetford Forest since 2000.
 Picture: Sonya DuncanMildenhall Warren Lodge has been cared for by the Friends of Thetford Forest since 2000. Picture: Sonya Duncan

Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk, Clare Countess of Euston, presented the award to the group at a ceremony held at High Lodge which was attended by the volunteers and Forestry Commission staff.

The volunteers give more spend more than 3,500 hours every year volunteering at the 18,730 hectare forest.

Thetford Forest. Picture: Sonya DuncanThetford Forest. Picture: Sonya Duncan

MORE - How well do you know Thetford Forest? Here are 10 interesting facts

Some of the work they do includes conservation of wildlife habitats, researching and protecting archaeology and heritage, caring for Lynford Arboretum and helping at the concerts and special events.

Highlight projects include the restoration of Mildenhall Warren Lodge, one of only two surviving medieval warren lodge buildings in Breckland.

Chairwoman of the Friends of Thetford Forest group, Anne Mason, with the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service. Picture: SONYA DUNCANChairwoman of the Friends of Thetford Forest group, Anne Mason, with the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service. Picture: SONYA DUNCAN

Since 2000 FoTF has cared for the 600-year-old building and raised £130,000 to conserve it, including a new roof.

FoTF are also involved in the Forestry Commission’s new two-year project called Trailing the Hidden Heritage of High Lodge which will include a new 4.2km trail to inform people about the hidden history which lies beneath the forest.

MORE - New trail will uncover history of High Lodge at Thetford Forest thanks to grant from Heritage Lottery Fund

Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk, Clare Countess of Euston, presented the award to the group.

She said “The excellence that FoTF’s large team had demonstrated in achieving this outstanding award was a credit to the county.

“Suffolk is very, very proud of the contribution the group had made to ensuring that this precious local environment is intact for future generations to enjoy.”

For more information visit FoTF

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