IN A week when the nation was celebrating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee one Linlithgow group flew its own flag by winning the coveted 2012 Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.
Linlithgow Union Canal Society (LUCS) has been awarded the prestigious Queen’s Award, which is the equivalent of an MBE for an individual.
The voluntary group is the first West Lothian-based group to win the award in seven years.
LUCS is one of eight winners in Scotland, out of the 112 named across the UK, presented with the prize for encouraging visitor participation in restoration and recreational use of the canal.
The accolade was created in 2002 to mark the Golden Jubilee, recognising outstanding contributions by groups of volunteers.
LUCS chairman Bob Wigley said: “To have won the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service 2012 is a great honour and a testimony to the effort put in by the large group of dedicated volunteers.
‘‘Many work behind the scenes but their contribution is as valuable as that of those who meet the public when Linlithgow Canal Centre is open.
“We have come a long way since 1975, when the late Mel Gray formed LUCS to promote the restoration, maintenance and use of the Union Canal in Linlithgow. He would have been justly proud of this prestigious award.”
LUCS is entirely staffed by volunteers and provides boat trips, Scotland’s only canal museum, a tearoom, charters, self-drive boat hire, educational visits and education on water safety for school children.
It also helps Scottish Canals maintain the Union Canal and its environment.
Isobel Brydie, Lord Lieutenant of West Lothian, said: “I’d like to congratulate everyone associated with the Linlithgow Union Canal Society.
“Year after year their hard work and dedication helps to ensure that hundreds, if not thousands, of visitors take to the waters and enjoy the Union Canal.
“The group plays a vital role in enhancing and promoting the Union Canal, particularly in the vicinity of Linlithgow.
‘‘I’m sure everyone in West Lothian is extremely proud to have such a fantastic group of people working so hard for the benefit of the whole community.”
Winners of the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service are announced on June 2 every year.
Former broadcast journalist Martyn Lewis, chairman 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.”
As an example of this last month, LUCS held a Festival of Transport where they celebrated 40 years of their flagship ‘‘Victoria’’ at the Manse Road Basin.
Winners of the Queen’s Award receive a certificate signed by Her Majesty The Queen and a crystal trophy.
The Lord Lieutenant presented the certificate and the crystal to LUCS on Wednesday. Representatives from the group may also be invited to attend a royal garden party.