VOLUNTEERS at a museum which commemorates soldiers from Burton and East Staffordshire have received a top gong.
It was announced in June the Staffordshire Regiment Museum, based at Whittington Barracks, would receive the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.
Now, volunteers at the museum have received the award – a domed glass crystal with a certificate signed by the Queen - which is the highest honour voluntary groups can receive in the UK.
The museum relies on the efforts of about 80 volunteers to carry out research programmes, lead school groups, man the front desk and ensure the museum runs smoothly.
Its curator Danielle Pritchard praised the work of the volunteers and said they are the ‘driving force’ behind the museum.
She said: “The award is recognition for all the years of service that the volunteers have given the museum.
“They’re very important because without them the museum would not be able to operate.
“The volunteers are the driving force behind the project. They are never ones to scream about things but I think they are thrilled to get the award.”
Mrs Pritchard said that volunteers have also begun to refurbish the museum’s replica First World War trench, named after Burton Victoria Cross hero William Coltman.
Mike Webley, a volunteer at the museum, said: “It has been a brilliant day. It’s really nice to have the opportunity to come together and celebrate the award.”
After the award was presented, the regiment’s mascot – a Staffordshire Bull Terrier named Watchman V – was officially promoted to the rank of full corporal.
Watchman V was donated to the museum from the town of Burton in 2009.
The regiment’s tradition of having a mascot dates back to 1882 when a Staffordshire Bull Terrier with regiment in Egypt jumped from a moving train.
The soldiers thought the animal had died until it staggered into their camp after following the tracks for more than 200 miles.
Another volunteer, Richmond Leason, said: “It’s been a great occasion and really fantastic being able to share it with Watchman as well.”