If you would like to offer your support to the Watchet LIVE nomination for the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, please read the letter below and in the comments leave your name, hometown and any comment you would wish to add about the difference the volunteers make to your life. Thank you.
We the undersigned wish to nominate Watchet LIVE for the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service 2017.
We believe that Watchet LIVE has made an outstanding contribution to our town. Its events organised and run entirely by volunteers include Watchet Music Festival, Watchet Carnival, Watchet Wheelbarrow Race and many more, have given Watchet a national voice and show that as a town we can attract the world’s finest musicians and are worth travelling the length of the country to visit. We are a small town in rural West Somerset and yet, thanks to the work of Watchet LIVE, and to all of its incredible volunteers, our town has the ability to create transformative events for Watchet that are outstanding in their quality and elevate our small rural town to a position of national standing.
Watchet is a town of just under 4,000 people in rural West Somerset. The last major employer in the town a paper mill factory closed in December 2015 cutting jobs in the town by a half. Our town suffers from many of the problems of deprivation common in rural coastal towns. And yet, thanks to the energy and vibrancy inspired by all those who work with Watchet LIVE, Watchet feels like one of the most exciting places to live. Their work and the work of their incredible volunteers inspire us to believe that Watchet is exceptional. They have provided opportunities for everyone in the town to get involved, they have raised aspirations for our young people and supported and honoured our older members, and in doing so created a wonderful sense of community togetherness.
The volunteers at Watchet LIVE are are hard-working, inspiring, visionary people who believe in the power of hard graft. They have freely given, in the 19 years that Watchet LIVE has been operating, their heart, soul, sweat and tears to put on events such as the recent Watchet LIVE Music Festival. The enormous sense of pride that the Festival offers us locals is partly due to the fact it sold out by advance ticket sales only this year, and partly because of its outstandingly beautiful location and delicious food offerings, but mostly we are proud because the event feels as though it is a celebration of a whole town. It feels uniquely ‘Watchet’ in its spirit, something that people are willing to travel many miles to experience.
The carnival too, run by Watchet LIVE is a true celebration of our town. Where the festival celebrates current music the carnival celebrates the great, wacky, outlandish traditions of our past. With floats and parades that have taken weeks, if not months, of careful preparation they pay tribute to the many community groups that have come together and lovingly and painstakingly make imaginative, and often wonderfully insane floats, costumes and props. The music festival, the carnival and the many other events that Watchet LIVE is involved in takes many thousands of hours of organisation and preparation all of which is freely given by the volunteers involved. These events bring many thousands of visitors to Watchet who in turn make a crucial contribution to the economic prosperity of Watchet.
Profits from Watchet LIVE are put back into the community, either by providing free admission to those disadvantaged, or by funding community groups. Many charities and local organisations have benefited from funding from Watchet LIVE including Elliot's Touch, Children’s Hospice South West, Stand Against Speed 4 Bethany and Watchet Sea Scouts amongst others.
Watchet LIVE has made Watchet feel as though it is truly living. It provides events that celebrate community spirit and collective endeavour, it allows every member of the community the opportunity to become involved in events that make the town unique and exceptional. Mark and Jackie Bale who run Watchet LIVE and all the volunteers give their time for the benefit of the whole town and for that we believe that Watchet LIVE should be awarded the Queens Award for Voluntary Service 2017.