In June 2014 The Friends were honoured with the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service 2014.
This unique UK national honour was created over a decade ago by Her Majesty to mark the Golden Jubilee in 2002 and to recognise the outstanding contributions made to local communities by groups of volunteers. It has an equivalent status for voluntary groups as the MBE has for individuals. The Friends were one of only 111 groups to receive this recognition and the only one from Warwickshire this year.
Juliet Starkey, General Manager at St Cross, said “The Friends give fantastic support to the staff at the hospital and their donations have made a clear difference to the patient experience in St Cross. There is not an operational department in the hospital that has not at some time benefited from a donation from the Friends and so I was pleased to nominate them for this national recognition.”
Included in the notice of the award was an invitation to attend a Queen’s Garden Party at Buckingham Palace and in July Joan Jesson, our President, and Heather Green our Chairperson made the trip down to London.
Joan said “The sun was shining and the gardens of the Palace were beautiful. Tea was served in the garden and consisted of a delicious finger style buffet with lots of treats.
The Royal Party made an entrance about an hour after our arrival and was escorted by the Yeomen of the Guard in all their finery. Her Majesty the Queen was accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh and other members of the Royal family including The Duchess of Cambridge, Princess Eugene, Princess Anne and Vice Admiral Sir Tim Lawrence.
There were approximately 8,000 individuals invited on the day from all sorts of organisations and the atmosphere was one of restrained excitement at being invited to such a prestigious event, with everyone wearing their, new or very best outfits.”
Heather added “It was a once in a lifetime experience. We were very impressed by how friendly the staff were, while efficiently getting guests in and out of the palace. The weather was beautiful and we enjoyed a wander round the grounds.”
On the 1st September 2014 The Friends of St Cross formally received the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service from the Queen’s representative, Tim Cox, Lord Lieutenant of Warwickshire. Mr Cox was accompanied by Mr Hamish Gray-Cheape, Vice Lord-Lieutenant of Warwickshire and Mr Eric Wood, Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Warwickshire who were members of the evaluation panel which examined our nomination and recommended it for approval by the Cabinet Office.
Presenting the award Mr Cox said that “It is a pleasure to come back to the hospital for the second time this year having attended when HRH Princess Alexandra opened the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Rehabilitation Centre which was part funded by the Friends of St Cross. I am delighted to be commanded by the Queen to present the charity with this award in recognition of excellent work that the charity has done over the past 59 years – recruiting over 200 volunteers to serve in various ways in the hospital and raising over £3m which has provided much needed equipment which improves the patient experience in the hospital and the local community and mental health services. The scale of the achievement of this honour is reflected in the fact that you are the only charity to receive this award in Warwickshire and one of only 111 nationally recognised this year.”
Accepting the award Joan Jesson, President of the Friends of the Hospital of St Cross said “It gives me enormous pleasure to accept this award on behalf of the charity. Over the 59 years that our organisation has been in existence over £3m has been donated to health services in Rugby, which would not have been possible without the generosity of the local community, and the hard work and commitment of our volunteers.
“Over that period of time there have been a great many individuals, some of whom are sadly not with us today, but with their hard work built a solid foundation on which we have developed our organisation and kept their ethos of wanting to make a difference to the patient experience.
“I would like to thank Juliet Starkey for nominating our charity and members of the Lord Lieutenants’ office who interviewed some of our trustees and volunteers, and put forward a recommendation for us to receive this award.
“All of the volunteers feel honoured and very proud to have their work acknowledged by being presented with this prestigious award.”
Juliet Starkey, General Manager at the Hospital of St Cross, said “I am thrilled that the superb work that the charity does has been recognised nationally with this award. There is not an operational department in the hospital which has not benefited at some time from a donation from The Friends and their volunteers are always willing to take on new non-clinical services which improve the patient experience whether it be by befriending patients who have infrequent visitors or helping with feeding. The staff are coming up with lots of ways of supporting the Diamond Jubilee Appeal and are confident that the high regard in which the charity is held by the community will ensure that the appeal will succeed and we will have a new phlebotomy service to be proud of in the new year.”
Eric Wood, who lead the evaluation visit said “It was clear from the outset that the Friends is an outstanding charity, well organised and highly regarded by all concerned. The award is thoroughly deserved and the team wish them every success for the future.”
Andy Hardy, Chief Executive Officer of University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust which manages the Hospital of St Cross and University Hospital in Coventry, said “It has been a great honour to witness the presentation of this award of which the Charity is absolutely and completely worthy. Over the past 59 years the £3m contribution has made a great difference on behalf of the patients of Rugby and the many services provided by the volunteers are outstanding.”