As we celebrate HM The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, we can only marvel at the years of service she has given, good-naturedly, patiently and unceasingly. In 70 years she has virtually never called in sick, never complained, never criticised and has carried out her duties, whatever they might be, with calm and dignity. An amazing example to us all, particularly in this age of social media (with all its benefits but also its nastiness), of lack of privacy and of toxic politics.
But we have much to celebrate. Throughout our communities there are so many people quietly getting on with life, serving others and giving their time unsparingly, kindly and generously. This is particularly true on the Isle of Wight.
This Platinum Jubilee weekend we can celebrate two organisations on the Island who have been awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. This is the highest honour that a voluntary organization can be given and was introduced by the Queen at her Diamond Jubilee to recognise just those qualities that she has always displayed. Over the last 10 years we have won more than our fair share of these awards (approximately 250 are awarded each year throughout the UK) and this year two have gone to Pan Together and Sandown Green Town Volunteers.
Sandown Green Town Volunteers have done the most fantastic work over the last six years in keeping Sandown tidy, in rewilding Culver Down and enhancing the town with flower beds and planters. The enthusiasm and commitment of the volunteers, who are out and about in all weathers, gardening and picking up other people’s litter, is amazing.
We are very lucky to have people like them on the Island, who see a problem and get together to solve it.
Pan Together has operated for many years to fulfil the needs of Pan, and the community centre acts as a fantastic social centre that pulls people in but also reaches out to find those in need. The provision of some 4,000 low cost or free meals, over the last year, is a fantastic achievement, which has made a great difference to children and pensioners in Pan. The staff, trustees and volunteers are constantly working hard and effectively to support residents who are most in need. These are just two examples, but throughout the Island I am lucky enough to meet people who quietly live out traditional Christian values of kindness, honesty and service. It may be keeping an eye on their neighbour, stopping in the street to help somebody in trouble, or even just not making the unpleasant comment that is on the tip of the tongue. The last two difficult years have, in many ways, brought out the best in our communities and this weekend there are a myriad of celebrations, exhibitions, street parties and ceremonies: all organised by volunteers.
It has been lovely to see Her Majesty out and about recently and I hope she has a wonderful weekend as we all celebrate with her.