Press Release: Kirkgate Arts Awarded The King’s Award for Voluntary Service


Cockermouth’s Kirkgate Arts and Heritage has been presented with the King’s Award for Voluntary Service, the highest award given to volunteer groups across the UK.

The Lord Lieutenant of Cumbria, Alexander Scott, handed over the award to Rob Higgins, Chair of the Kirkgate’s Board of Trustees, at a special celebration event attended amongst others by Kirkgate volunteers, staff and trustees.

The prestigious award, equivalent to the MBE, has been made in recognition of the exceptional work volunteers do from their base at the Kirkgate for the benefit of their local community.

To be nominated, a group must:

· be made up of at least 3 people;

· be led by volunteers, not paid staff;

· have been running for at least 3 years;

· be based in the UK, Channel Islands or Isle of Man.

The Lord Lieutenant, the King’s representative in Cumbria, was accompanied by Deputy Lord Lieutenants Chris Holmes and Caroline Thomson.

After handing over the certificate signed by the King and the domed glass crystal award, he said: “You should all be very proud. This award represents a great day for the organisation.

“The requirements are demanding. It needs to be volunteer led, largely volunteer delivered and well ran in all areas.”

Rob Higgins, Chair of the Kirkgate’s Board of Trustees, added: “The award is ‘for outstanding achievement by groups of volunteers’ and we’d like to extend our heartfelt thanks and congratulations to all of you, our volunteers, who play such a crucial role in the life of the Kirkgate.

“We’ll be putting on over 400 events in the coming year across a wide range of activities. We’re also planning some significant infrastructure improvements.

“We couldn’t do any of this without the help of our 100 plus volunteers so a big thank you to all of you.”

Local assessors researched and visited nominated groups before writing a report on their suitability. Local assessment panels then decided which ones to put forward to the National Assessment Committee, which considered the nominations and agreed a shortlist for approval by the King.

After the King’s Award presentation, the Lord Lieutenant formally unveiled the Civic Trust public information panel that celebrates the history of the Kirkgate building.

The panel traces its history from its opening as All Saints National School in 1869, through a time of neglect in the 1970s and 80s, to its conversion to the thriving arts and heritage centre that it is today.

Central to the rescuing of the Kirkgate was Peter Colley, then Vice Chair of the Civic Trust, which led the campaign in 1990 to save the building from demolition, such that it could be used for community use.

The information panel recognises Peter’s major contribution to what the Kirkgate Centre is today and has been funded in his memory by his widow, Barbara Colley. Barbara, who was then Secretary of the Civic Trust, also played a significant role, particularly on funding. Their son, Dan Colley, represented Barbara at the ceremony.

Dan talked about the pleasure that his mother has about the panel and how his parents would both be so pleased to see how well the building is being used today by Kirkgate Arts and Heritage.

ENDS …..


Kirkgate Arts and Heritage is a charity based in Cockermouth, Cumbria. It operates an arts and heritage centre as well as working with towns and villages in West Cumbria to encourage a diverse programme of arts, culture and entertainment. Its vision is to ensure that creative talent is valued, developed and supported with opportunities for all to engage actively with, and enjoy, the arts, local heritage and community life.

The Kirkgate Centre brings the best cultural, theatrical and entertainment events to Cumbria. From the best feature and documentary films to live streaming of top

London shows, to local talent, heritage exhibitions, music, theatre, comedy and more, there is something for everyone.

In the historic Kirkgate Quarter of the Gem Town of Cockermouth, sitting on the edge of the Lake District National Park, the Kirkgate Centre is the perfect venue for special occasions, conferences, meetings, courses, exhibitions or private film screenings.

Kirkgate manages Arts Out West which stages performances in community venues from Furness to the Solway, ranging from nationally-recognised theatre companies to international musicians with events that are as much a social occasion as a performance. It is a member of the National Rural Touring Forum supported by Arts Council England as a National Portfolio Organisation.

Follow @kirkgatearts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

For more information:

Emma Heys 01900 829966

The Kirkgate Arts and Heritage, Kirkgate, Cockermouth, CA13 9PJ