HRH The Earl of Wessex meets Berkshire volunteers at celebration tea

HRH thanking volunteers at the event

Berkshire, UK (7 September 2021) – His Royal Highness The Earl of Wessex yesterday attended a celebration event at Ascot Racecourse, organised by Berkshire Community Foundation (BCF) to thank volunteers across Berkshire for their priceless contributions throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sponsored by BCF corporate partners Ascot Racecourse, Mars Wrigley and Reckitt, the event saw 200 volunteers and representatives from over 80 charities and community groups gather at Ascot Racecourse to enjoy afternoon tea, whilst being entertained by magician Jamie Raven.

Volunteer representatives from a wide range of Berkshire-based charities who provided vital support during the pandemic met with HRH The Earl of Wessex and shared their experiences during the crisis.

Stephen Howard, Chair of Trustees at Berkshire Community Foundation, said: “Berkshire is home to an incredibly vibrant and caring charity sector, with volunteers at its core. In the last year, volunteers were vital in keeping crucial support services open and gave many people a lifeline through the most difficult time in recent history. We are proud to have supported them through the pandemic and are delighted that these everyday heroes have been given royal recognition.”

Over the last year, Berkshire Community Foundation’s Vital for Berkshire Coronavirus Fund gave £3.2 million in grants to help local charities, community and voluntary groups impacted by, and working to help people affected by, the COVID-19 crisis in Berkshire. In total, the Foundation supported 230 local charities and groups, funding more than 450 community projects which helped 1.5 million people across the County.

Katherine Burton, a volunteer at Food4Families in Reading, said about her volunteering experience: “Over the last 15 months or so, I have volunteered at Lavender Place Community Gardens situated on the site of the former Civic Centre in the heart of Reading. The gardens are a place of real joy, a green sanctuary that has not only provided food for those in need as part of the Food4Families programme, a need that grew due to the Covid-19 crisis, but that continues to provide a vital shared, natural space for all around the town. It’s a place for telling food-growing stories, learning how to grow veg with less impact on our environment and sharing how to make our world a better place.” 

Reckitt, one of the event sponsors, has been a key supporter of BCF and its Vital for Berkshire – Coronavirus Fund. Globally headquartered in Slough, Reckitt contributed over £870,000 to help BCF address frontline needs thrown up by the pandemic.

Susannah Herbert, Social Impact Partnerships Engagement Manager at Reckitt, said: “The level of community support and mutual care throughout Berkshire in the last year is a testament to the power of working together – with charities, local organisations, businesses, and above all, volunteers. Together with Berkshire Community Foundation, Ascot Racecourse and Mars Wrigley, we are very happy with this opportunity to thank them with a well-deserved celebration.”

Volunteers have been widely recognised as having made a vital contribution to their communities in the last year. According to DCMS, one in five (21%) people across England formally volunteered at the beginning of the pandemic, whilst almost half (47%) volunteered informally, giving unpaid help to people affected by COVID-19.

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