Friends of Hebburn Cemetery thank police with touching gesture after group won Queen's Award

A group of volunteers honoured by the Queen have thanked neighbourhood police officers who helped them in their community work with a touching gesture.

Tuesday, 15th June 2021, 11:55 am
Picture (left to right): CSO Neil Reed, PC Jason Sweeney, John Stewart, PC Danielle Gamble-Thompson, CSO Paul Worsley.

The group was launched in 2017 in response to 25 headstones being vandalised and now play a key role in supporting the whole community of Hebburn and looking after the area.

Efforts have included flower planting with pupils and staff from schools, regular litter picks, installing CCTV at the cemetery and maintaining graves.

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Picture (left to right): CSO Neil Reed, PC Jason Sweeney, PC Danielle Gamble-Thompson, CSO Paul Worsley.

The group’s chairman John Stewart believes the Queens Award would not have been possible without the help of others in the community – so took it on himself to get some medals created and handed out to others who have supported their work.

Among those honoured were Hebburn’s neighbourhood policing team, and John has today paid tribute to the officers who’ve “supported the group every step of the way”.

The 59-year-old said: “We have the most fantastic neighbourhood officers and they are a big part of what we do.

“The officers often give up their spare time to support our work in the community and I just thought they deserved some credit.

“We wanted to give everybody who plays a part something as a little gesture. As a group we were delighted to receive a certificate and ornament for winning the award, but that’s two items and we wanted everybody to have their own little reminder of how much we appreciate their efforts.

“In this day and age, where times are tough and it’s been a difficult last 18 months, it’s wonderful to have a community like ours in Hebburn where everybody looks out for each other.

“Our police officers are a big part of that and have supported the group every step of the way – so we all wanted to say thanks.”

Community support officer (CSO) Paul Worsley said the team were touched to be thanked by the Friends in such a way, and payed tribute to the work they do.

“The Friends of Hebburn Cemetery richly deserve their award and the contribution they make to the area is huge,” he said.

“We are proud to work with them on various community projects – and were very touched to receive these medals from John.

“All the group’s volunteers should be proud of their achievement and I know the public will join me in thanking them for all the work they are doing in Hebburn.”

Created in 2002 to celebrate the anniversary of The Queen's coronation, The Queen's Award for Voluntary Service is the highest award given to local volunteer groups across the UK to recognise outstanding work done in their own communities.

Two other groups in South Tyneside were given the award this year – the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade and the the NECA Community Garden, at the Brockley Avenue Allotments in South Shields.

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