Today, Friday 19th January 2024, Mr Mohammed Saddiq, His Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Somerset, accompanied by Deputy Lieutenants Rear Admiral Ian Moncrieff CBE and Mr Chris Davies CBE, presented the King’s Award for Voluntary Service to the West Somerset Food Cupboard team at the Church of St. Michael the Archangel in Alcombe.
The award was given to the West Somerset Food Cupboard, based in Minehead, on 14th November 2023 as part of The King’s birthday celebrations. This is the highest award a local voluntary group can receive in the UK and is equivalent to an MBE.
Food Cupboard volunteers along with volunteer Trustee, Jane Jones and volunteer Chair, Katrina Midgley were there to receive this prestigious award. Katrina commented,
“What an honour this is. The award recognises the commitment and hard work of the incredible team of over 50 volunteers we have at the West Somerset Food Cupboard. Their dedication enables us to operate in our local community, ensuring that nobody in West Somerset needs to go hungry. In the past year alone, we have distributed a total of 5560 bags of food.”
After presenting the award Lord-Lieutenant was able to talk to volunteers. He commented,
“Due to the cost-of-living crisis, there is a direct need. You are leagues ahead of many organisations in the UK. We will try to replicate the experience you have gained across other parts of Somerset.”
Councillor Mandy Chilcott said
“I was excited to attend today’s presentation and meet the volunteers from across West Somerset. They work tirelessly alongside local agencies, charities and businesses to make sure food gets to people in need, and to ensure no surplus food goes to waste.”
The King’s Award for Voluntary Service aims to recognise outstanding work by local volunteer groups to benefit their communities. It was created in 2002 to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee and, following his accession, His Majesty, The King emphasised his desire to continue the Award.
The West Somerset Food Cupboard has been providing emergency food from the Parish Church of St. Michael the Archangel, Alcombe since 2007. The food is donated by local people, checked, and packed by volunteers, and distributed either by a local agency supporting someone through a particular challenge, or directly by a member of the team.
In addition, in May 2022, the Local Pantry was established. The Local Pantry is a membership scheme formed through a partnership agreement with supermarket surplus charity Fareshare South West and Somerset West and Taunton Council’s Local Pantries initiative. The team of volunteers sort deliveries and stock the pantry, and welcome members every Tuesday, assisting with their weekly shop – all for £3.50 per member.