The Diocese of Guildford warmly congratulates the Wintershall Players who
have received The Queenâ€™s Award for Voluntary Service.
The award - the equivalent of an MBE for an individual - is the highest
recognition that can be given to a volunteer group in the UK. The Wintershall Players, who have used drama to spread Godâ€™s message for 20 years, were one of 130 groups selected for their outstanding voluntary contribution.
The author and producer of the plays, Peter Hutley said â€œIt is an immense
honour to receive this recognition from The Queen. We still have some of the original cast who were with us when we started."
â€œOthers have retired and new volunteers are always coming forward, but this award is a tremendous â€˜thank youâ€™ to them all, past and present.â€
Their work started with The Wintershall Nativity, written and produced by
Peter Hutley and performed by his family and close friends. The group now
has a cast of many hundreds of volunteers. They continue to stage ten
performances of the Nativity each Christmas, but also offer a far broader
repertoire of works.
This year saw the Easter Passion performed in Trafalgar Square to an
audience of thousands. The Bishop of London and the Archbishop of
Westminster each took an active part, demonstrating the ecumenical nature of the groupâ€™s work.
Last year, the group put on six performances of The Life of Christ on the
Wintershall Estate near Bramley in Surrey. Each performance took place
over a six-hour period before a total audience, over the week, of close to
Mrs Kathy Longbottom, a cast member for 20 years said â€œBeing a part of the Wintershall plays gives a very real sense of belonging to a family. We support one another and give our all to make sure that every performance is not only entirely professional, but more importantly an expression of Godâ€™s love.â€
A presentation ceremony will take place later this year, when the Wintershall Players will receive a certificate signed by Her Majesty The Queen from the Lord Lieutenant of Surrey, Mrs Sarah Goad. It is understood that representatives from the group may also be invited to attend a Buckingham Palace garden party later this summer.