A THEATRE group has won the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, which is the highest award given to local volunteer groups in the UK.

The Corn Exchange in Wallingford and the Sinodun Players, resident company and owner of the theatre, were awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in 2020. Because of the pandemic the usual ceremony to present the award could not be done. However, instead this will now take place at the Corn Exchange theatre on Sunday July 25.

The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service recognises the outstanding work of volunteer groups in their own communities. It was created in 2002 to celebrate the anniversary of the Queen’s coronation.

Brian Buchan, Vice Lord Lieutenant will present the award in front of an invited audience of volunteers from the Corn Exchange and Sinodun Players. Some of the volunteers have been working at the theatre since the conversion work started in 1976.

Also present will be Lynda Atkins, Deputy Lord Lieutenant, Kate Tiller, Deputy Lord Lieutenant, Miranda Markham, Deputy Lord Lieutenant, and Brian Crossland, Deputy Lord Lieutenant who is in charge of the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Services in Oxfordshire.

The Sinodun Players is not only an amateur dramatic group but it also runs the Corn Exchange as a centre for community arts and entertainment. The Players transformed the Corn Exchange from a derelict building into a popular community facility.

The Sinodun Players was founded in 1948, and the charity operates from and owns Wallingford’s historic Corn Exchange. The theatre boasts a modern sound and lighting system, and also has a café and fully stocked bar run entirely by volunteers.

Dr Kate Tiller, Deputy Lieutenant for Oxfordshire, nominated the group and said: “Wallingford Corn Exchange, home of the Sinodun Players Amateur Dramatic Society, shows how a traditional local organisation can transform itself and develop into a key community asset for the 21st century.

"Described by its users as ‘the heart of the community’, not only is it a cultural landmark but importantly it serves as a cross generational meeting hub where people of all backgrounds are welcome to both enjoy the experience as well as to volunteer their own unique skills.”

The theatre was reopened in May after the lockdown and the cinema has been operational since then and the first live theatre performance will be Wind in the Willows by the Sinodun Players.

Recently the theatre group announced a collaboration with a town centre pub, The Old Post Office, to give a boost to the hospitality and arts industries and encourage spending.

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