On 3 June news came through that Swindon 105.5 community radio is to receive the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in recognition of the work of the station in the community and the impact it has made to people’s lives.
The nomination was made by the outgoing High Sheriff of Wiltshire William Wyldbore-Smith shortly after station manager Shirley Ludford, in early March, received his individual award for her work over many years bringing people together.
The citation says the award is made in recognition of ‘Provision training and volunteering opportunities, currently to ages 9 to 73, with success stories of personal development and achievement via an accessible, inclusive non-commercial community radio station.’
Shirley said: "The phone call in early May was such a surprise, such wonderful news, and huge recognition of all the volunteers involved in preparing, producing and presenting radio programmes and other media activities at the station."
Licensed by OFCOM, the non-commercial, Not For Profit community broadcasting service is funded by grants, donations, corporate support, fund-raising events and support in-kind. Launched in 2008, it operates 24/7, and has 120 volunteers running the station. The only paid staff are Shirley and a new weekend manager who are funded for a total of 30 hours to coordinate the station’s output and volunteer training.
105.5s profile was boosted nationally in March when Shirley was featured on ITV’s programme Surprise Surprise. Asked who she would like to meet, she said she had always wanted to meet Whoopi Goldberg. On 6 May she travelled to New York to meet her role model on 8 May.
"I really thought the film crew were here to make a documentary about community radio," said Shirley. "But by the fourth visit I discovered my son James had sneakily nominated me for a surprise. He’s came with me to New York and we met Whoopi after she appeared on The Voice. Read about her meeting
"I’m so glad she agreed to become the international arts patron of Swindon 105.5."
Shirley with young radio station volunteers and the High Sherriff’s Award Photo by Richard Wintle of Calyx
Left, Shirley interviewing Whoopi Goldberg in New York