Two teenagers become first in 34 years to win Queen's award for their dedication to their community
Two members of the First Whitburn Boys’ Brigade have been awarded the organisation’s top honour.
During a service at Whitburn Methodist Church, Staff Sergeant Simon Ludlow, 19 and Sergeant James Warren, 18, received their Queen’s Badges; the highest honour available in the brigade in the UK and the Commonwealth.
The awards were presented by the Lord Lieutenant of Tyne and Wear, Susan Whitfield OBE.
To attain a Queen’s Badge recipients must already have achieved the President’s Badge. It requires two years of hard work, which includes volunteering, learning new skills and tough physical activities.
The 1st Whitburn Boy’s Brigade, based at the church at Long Guards in the village, was founded in 1985 and this is the first time that any of its members has completed a Queen’s Badge.
James been with the brigade since the age of seven and has just completed his A-levels at Harton Academy. He is about to study physics with astronomy at Nottingham University. To achieve the award he took up rowing, learned the guitar and helped Year 7 pupils at Harton with their maths.
Simon, who has dyspraxia, joined aged five. For his badge he played football for South Tyneside Ability FC, a team for people with disabilities, learned piano to Grade 3 standard and helped with the Anchors, the youngest members of the Boys' Brigade.
James said: "I feel very proud. When I started 11 years ago I never thought I would be the first boy to get the Queen’s Badge; along with Simon of course. Those 11 years have all come together.
"It’s not just for me. It’s for the whole 1st Whitburn Boys’ Brigade and the church.
James will have to leave the organisation for now, but could well be back.
He added: "I was thinking of doing some leader’s work when I’m older and have more free time. It’s something I’m definitely open to.
Simon said: "I feel really proud. Hopefully we've inspired some of the younger ones to follow in our footsteps."
Company Captain Stewart Langlands said: “You wait 34 years and then two come along at once! We are delighted for Simon and James”.