Volunteers at the International Bomber Command Centre (IBCC) in Lincolnshire, the memorial site and centre for Bomber Command, have been awarded the prestigious King’s Award for Voluntary Service.
The honour is the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK and is equivalent to an MBE. It recognises the outstanding achievements and voluntary work of those giving back to their communities.
The IBCC volunteer team was awarded the award for its tireless work building and developing the centre, honouring those who served, supported, or were affected by Bomber Command. They have also helped create the world’s largest free-to-access digital repository, incorporating a digital archive of documents that recount the role of Bomber Command during the Second World War and the acclaimed Losses Database, which tells the background of all of those lost in the Command’s 32-year history. The IBCC project has had the support of more than 400 volunteers from nine countries who have so far given more than 61,000 hours– the equivalent of almost seven years.
Nicky van der Drift, chief executive of the International Bomber Command Centre, said: “It is an honour to receive this award. I know first-hand the amount of work, dedication, and care that our volunteers have given to this project, and I am so proud of what they have achieved.
“It’s important that we remember the sacrifices made during the war so that we can recognise the many acts of bravery and heroism, while reconciling the actions of those who served and supported Bomber Command.
“Since opening to the public in 2018, we’ve had more than 450,000 visitors to the Centre to pay their respects and reflect as they walk through the 57,861 names surrounding our memorial spire. None of this would have been possible without the efforts of our brilliant team of volunteers, and I hope each of them feel a share of the pride at having been given the King’s Award for Voluntary Service.”
In the five years since opening, the IBCC has accumulated more than 33 awards, including Visit England’s Bronze Award for Large Visitor Attraction Excellence, putting it in the same company as Blenheim Palace and Warner Bros Studio.
Dave Gilbert, one of the volunteers who alone has logged more than 12,000 hours on the project, said: “I joined in 2013 and in the ten years since have put a great deal of effort into the project. While the work is rewarding in of itself, it’s immensely gratifying to see the hard work the volunteers have collectively put into the project recognised by such a prestigious body.”
The International Bomber Command Centre is open from 9:30 am-4 pm Tuesday to Sunday, with the last entry to the Exhibition at 3 pm. For more information about the centre or to book tickets and donate, please visit internationalbcc.co.uk/.