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Wintershall Players receive Queen's Award

Date: 20 July 2011

The Diocese of Guildford warmly congratulates the Wintershall Players who have received The Queen’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 God’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 “It 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."

“Others have retired and new volunteers are always coming forward, but this award is a tremendous ‘thank you’ to them all, past and present.”

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 group’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 20,000 people.

Mrs Kathy Longbottom, a cast member for 20 years said “Being 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 God’s love.”

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.

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