The award was created to mark the Golden Jubilee in 2002, recognising outstanding contributions by groups of volunteers. For a voluntary group, it is the equivalent of getting an MBE.
Former broadcast journalist Martyn Lewis CBE, Chair of the Voluntary Service Award Committee, said: "In this Diamond Jubilee Year the judges have been hugely impressed by the many imaginative ways that volunteers are coming together to help build and sustain the fabric of our society. They are proof that in these difficult times the community spirit is alive and well right across the UK.”
DFR – as it has come to be known locally – began life in 2008 when the residents of Dorstone learned they would shortly lose their small rural post office. For Dorstonians, the loss of their post office was a blow. Like many rural communities, the post office was the daytime hub of the village. It served as meeting place, information centre, last minute gift resource, and social glue.
So, the local community set out to replace what they were losing. With the help of over twenty-five village volunteers and a number of terrific funding resources, DFR has become a key part of rural life and a unique place to share a taste of what it’s like to live in Herefordshire’s beautiful rural community.
Although a party had already been arranged for the 25 volunteers who meet at DFR every week, they were totally unprepared for the Queen’s announcement on Friday. They were told the news on Friday evening (1st June) when the office of Hereford’s Lord Lieutenant emailed one of the founders of the group, Karen Usher.
“We were absolutely delighted to learn we have been honoured by The Queen as we are very proud of what we have achieved here in Dorstone,” said Karen. “DFR is the hub of our local community, providing an outlet for local creativity and culinary skills – our Friday morning bacon butties are legendary!
“We now have a thriving local community with lots of activities for people to participate in. Of course not everything happens in our Front Room, but it has certainly brought us together and made us strong. DFR has become central to the village and helped keep the village alive.”
Cllr Phillip Price, cabinet member for corporate services and education at Herefordshire Council, nominated the DFR for the award: “I nominated them because they are an exemplary example of how a community can pull together a facility that meets community need. They are quite right to be proud of what they have achieved.
He continued: “Their business model makes a true living village community and could be replicated across Herefordshire and beyond. Because of their commitment to sharing experiences, the DFR should be a place to visit for anyone wishing to create a facility to meet service needs in rural villages.
“Congratulations to all of the voluntary members of the team that have made such a success of this local venture.”