Department of Music


Media and film lecturer’s ukulele festival receives Queen’s Award for community work

A community music festival managed by a Sussex academic in her spare time has received the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.

Senior Lecturer in Media & Film Studies, Mary Agnes Krell, is Director of the Grand Northern Ukulele Festival which has been running in Huddersfield for the past five years.

The volunteers behind the Yorkshire festival have been given the award for their work in the community.

Mary said: “It is such an honour to receive the Queens Award for Voluntary Service that it scarcely seems real.

“We volunteer hundreds of hours each year to build the festival. On the outside it’s a ukulele festival – but it has a massive component of community outreach in its local area and within the ukulele community.

“It is a joy to see people’s responses to our work. It is a tremendous honour to be recognised outside of the ukulele world for all we do.”

Mary is also writing about the festival as part of her research and recently presented a paper at the CHIME Conference in Sienna about her work - exploring notions of community and social inclusion in small festival contexts.

Over five years the festival has supported 353 artists, 1,700 people have participated in the event and 4,100 people have attended the festival. The event has also been responsible for bringing Huddersfield to the world stage by attracting artists and fans from across the globe.

Mary and her partner, Robert - who started the festival with her - were invited to an official garden party at Buckingham Palace in May as part of the award. The award is nominated by members of the public and is the equivalent of an MBE for organisations.

A spokesperson for the Department of Culture, who select the recipients for the award, said: “The award of The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service 2017 represents a tremendous achievement for your organisation. We hope that everyone involved, and particularly your volunteers, feel immensely proud of the recognition that this award represents.”

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Posted on behalf of: University of Sussex
Last updated: Thursday, 20 July 2017