Slow The Flow receives The Queens Award for Voluntary Service

Slow The Flow has been honoured with The Queens Award for Voluntary Service, the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK (“the MBE for volunteer groups”). 

Slow The Flow is a charity working to advance the education of the public in Natural Flood Management (NFM), Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS), and other renewable methods of managing the environment. Slow The Flow volunteers work to provide practical solutions to reduce flood risk in the Calder Valley and around the UK by using these natural techniques to slow the flow of rainwater and help reduce the damage flooding can do to communities, homes, businesses, and livelihoods.  

The collaboration between Slow The Flow and The National Trust at Hardcastle Crags in Hebden Bridge has so far resulted in over 600 leaky woody dams being constructed to slow the flow of rainwater into the valley below.  This work was carried out by 100s of local volunteers, who have made a fantastic contribution to reducing the flood risk in the area, as well as the additional Green Infrastructure benefits that NFM and SuDS offer.  

Slow The Flow have also led other numerous other initiatives to promote the use of natural methods to reduce flood risk in the Calder Valley and the effect of their work is also felt around the UK, such is their influence.  

Slow The Flow is one of 241 charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups to receive this prestigious award this year.  The number of nominations remains high year on year, showing that the voluntary sector is thriving and full of innovative ideas to make life better for those around them.  

The Queens Award for Voluntary Service aims to recognise outstanding work by volunteer groups to benefit their local communities.  It was created in 2002 to celebrate The Queens Golden Jubilee. Recipients are announced each year on the 2nd June, the anniversary of The Queens Coronation. Award winners this year are wonderfully diverse.   

Representatives of Slow The Flow will receive this award and certificate from Mr. Ed Anderson, Lord-Lieutenant of West Yorkshire, later this summer.  Furthermore, 2 volunteers from Slow The Flow will attend a garden party at Buckingham Palace in May 2022 along with other recipients of this year’s award.  

Bede Mullen, Chair of Slow The Flow said of the award: 

“It is a great honour to receive the Queens Award for Voluntary Service for the work of Slow The Flow. We started Slow The Flow following the devastating Boxing Day 2015 flood event, confident that there was something we, the community, could do to help protect ourselves from the effects of flooding. And so began a journey to explore the potential for natural flood management; to work with landowners, statutory bodies like Calderdale Council, Environment Agency, Yorkshire Water and the National Trust, and other local groups like Treesponsibility and Moors For The Future. We must also thank our dedicated teams of volunteers who have worked so hard building leaky dams, attenuation basins, stuffing gullies and planting trees, to slow the flow of rainwater from the uplands to the settlements in the valley.

Throughout this journey we have had the support of over 1000 volunteers, who, until the Covid -19 pandemic struck, worked every other weekend building NFM into the fabric of our environment. As well as our volunteers, we have received unstinting support from the wider community. This has provided the motivation to keep doing what we do, knowing that it makes a difference to the community.

It is to those volunteers and communities that we dedicate our Queens Award for Voluntary Service.

Our work will continue. The topography of the Calder Valley means it is susceptible to flood events.  The effects of climate change will increase our susceptibility, and that of other communities across the UK, with more frequent and intense rainfall events leading to flooding. The scope for introducing NFM and SuDS into the environment is enormous. We plan to exploit this to the full. In addition to land based practical work, we will focus on promoting our educational work, including introducing young people to the science behind, and compelling reasons to advocate natural flood management”.

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