Queen's award for Swanage Railway volunteers

Mark Woolley Image copyright Andrew PM Wright
Image caption Volunteer trust secretary Mark Woolley attended a special garden party at Buckingham Palace

Swanage Railway has been handed the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service - the highest award given to volunteer groups in the UK.

The accolade, equivalent to an MBE, recognises 25 years of work to rebuild the Dorset branch line.

The track, which was closed and ripped up in 1972, has been reinstated from Swanage to Corfe Castle and Furzebrook.

The award comes two weeks before the railway reintroduces a service connecting the mainline at Wareham.

On Tuesday, 13 June it will be the first time in 45 years that a regular train service has run from Swanage and Corfe Castle to the mainline.

The citation for the award said the volunteers had been recognised for "developing the Heritage Railway to reinstate services between Swanage and Wareham for the benefit of the community".

Image copyright Nick Macneill
Image caption Volunteers spent decades working to rebuild the railway after it was ripped up in the 1970s

Swanage Railway Trust chairman Gavin Johns said: "Our founding members had a dream of restoring the railway and returning Swanage and Corfe Castle train services to Wareham. We have fulfilled that dream and have become a valued part of the Purbeck community."

The announcement by Buckingham Palace said: "The work your group does for the community was very much admired by the independent Assessment Committee chaired by Sir Martyn Lewis CBE.

"The award of the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service 2017 represents a tremendous achievement for your organisation. We hope that everyone involved, and particularly your volunteers, feel immensely proud of the recognition that this award represents."

Swanage Railway Trust trustee and secretary Mark Woolley, who has been a volunteer since he was a teenager in the mid-1980s, attended a garden party at Buckingham Palace on Thursday.

The trust will receive a certificate signed by the Queen and a domed glass crystal, which will be presented to the charity by the Lord Lieutenant of Dorset at a later date.

Image copyright Ian Taylor
Image caption The Swanage Railway Trust charity has 4,000 members and is run by about 450 volunteers

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