MEMBERS of the Friends of Pontypool Town community group travelled to Buckingham Palace after the group were awarded a Queens Award for Voluntary Service.

The award is the highest award for voluntary groups in the UK.

Nikola Masters, chairwoman of the Friends of Pontypool Town, and Rosemary Matthews, member of the Friends and chairwoman of Pontypool Town Council, attended a garden party at the Palace, along with other recipients of this year’s Award.

"It was brilliant," said Mrs Masters. "It was such a privilege.

"Everyone there was there for a good cause. The highlight was listening to everyone's stories and celebrating all of the good causes.


"The Queen and Kate and William were there. Getting to go in the palace was amazing and the gardens were incredible.

"It's massive to win the award. When we were nominated I didn't think there was a chance that we would win. There are groups in every town that do what we do."

The Friends aim to make Pontypool town centre a vibrant, safe and attractive place to live, work and visit.

Mrs Masters said: "We are just doing what we enjoy and try to enhance our town.

"It's hard work, as we all work full-time alongside volunteering with the Friends, but it is fun.

"I'm hoping off the back of this that we can get more people involved and more people can see the benefits of what we do.

"It's about trying to get the positivity up and encouraging more people to come in to town or bring their businesses in to town.

"We organise the Halloween event and the Easter Eggstravaganza, with Pontypool Community Council organising the Christmas Cavalcade and Party in the Park.

"The events are becoming more and more popular and by having a big event in town every three months, we hope to bring more people in to Pontypool Town Centre.

"We also do monthly litter picks with Osbourne Lodge Nursery and Keep Wales Tidy. The children love it, and we hope that it encourages people to look after the town."

South Wales Argus:

(Rosemary Matthews and Nikola Masters from the Friends of Pontypool Town at Buckingham Palace. Picture: Friends of Pontypool Town.)

The Friends were one of only three Welsh groups to receive the award.

The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service aims to recognise outstanding work by volunteer groups to benefit their local communities. It was created in 2002 to celebrate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee.

This year there were 281 winners of the award from across the UK.

The Friends will officially receive their award from the High Sherriff at a later date.

Cllr Gaynor James, leader of Pontypool Community Council, said: “It’s fantastic news for Pontypool.

“They are a really hard working group doing their regular litter picks with the youngsters from Osbourne Lodge Nursery.

“They organise some fantastic events such as the Easter Eggstravaganza and the Halloween event.

“I’m very proud of them and it’s great for Pontypool.”

To find out more about the Friends search Friends of Pontypool Town on Facebook.