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Narrowboat charity in North Staffordshire to receive Queen's Award

A charity providing canal boat trips for disadvantaged children in North Staffordshire is to be presented with a prestigious award this week.

The Lord Lieutenant of Staffordshire, Mr Ian Dudson CBE KStJ, will present the Beatrice Charity with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.

He will hand over a glass crystal and a certificate signed by HM the Queen at a ceremony to be held at Castro’s Restaurant in Cheddleton near the Beatrice narrowboat’s mooring on the Caldon Canal.

He will arrive for the presentation on the boat, with some of the children who have benefitted from it.

The Awards recognise charities which provide a service and meet a need for people living in the local community; are supported, recognised and respected by the local community and the people who benefit from them; and are run locally. 

The Beatrice Charity was founded more than forty years ago and the first boat was launched by Princess Anne. Prince Charles, who sponsored the scheme under which the boat was built, said, “A trip on a canal boat, with its gentle progress, is the nearest a disabled person may come to enjoying a walk in the countryside”.

The present boat, the third the charity has owned, has served for 20 years.  

During term times the boats offers trips, free of charge, for school groups. In 2018 it took 705 children on 94 trips. During holidays it carries other groups, including people from day centres and residential homes, at a modest charge to help meet running costs. It also carries private groups, mainly at weekends. The rest of its costs are met by grants, donations and fundraising.

Joan Wright, the Head of The Meadows School in Leek, one of the boat’s regular users, said, “This award is so well deserved. Even when you visit on a rainy day the volunteers are always so upbeat. The students always look forward to going.”

The Lord Lieutenant said, “Beatrice is a shining example of the organisations in the county whose volunteers improve the lives of others in our communities – we are extremely grateful to them all.”

Derek Hilyer, Chairman of the Charity, said, “Being awarded the QAVS is a great honour for the charity and for all the volunteers who are, and have been, involved in running the Beatrice.”

Guests at the presentation will include past and present volunteers and representatives of Beatrice’s users, supporters and funders.

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