The Kent Archaeological Rescue Unit.

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Queen's Award for Voluntary Service 2013.
Awarded to: The Kent Archaeological Rescue Unit.

Kent Unit volunteers were delighted with the announcement that it been awarded the Queens Award for Voluntary Service on the 60th anniversary of the Coronation. The Award equates to a corporate MBE for the recipients. The Unit, founded in 1971, has engaged hundreds of volunteers in its 42 year programme of extensive work across Kent. This has included several hundred rescue-excavations on sites threatened with destruction, notably in the Ashford, Bromley, Dartford, Dover, Faversham, Folkestone, Maidstone and Medway districts. The work also included excavations on the M20 and M25 under construction.

The Unit's main public role has been the long-term management and presentation of the Roman Villa at Orpington (for 22 years) and the Roman Painted House at Dover (for 35 years). At both sites the Unit carried out rescue excavations, saved the sites from destruction, then raised funds and itself constructed the cover-buildings over the Roman structures. For these projects it later won six national awards for presentation and tourism. Over the past four decades over 700,000 visitors, both from abroad and the UK, have been given guided tours of the two sites by the Unit's volunteers. Of special importance are school activity workshops, started nearly 20 years ago and led by volunteers, for some 80,000 school children as part of their studies of Roman Britain.

As part of the Award four volunteers from the Unit were invited to a Garden Party held at Buckingham Palace on 30th May. Gillian Bowers and Daphne Kettle from the East Kent team and Eileen Vassie and Liz Saunders from the West Kent team, were the lucky members and who all hugely enjoyed the event.

Brian Philp, founder and present director the Unit, said We are delighted with this highly prestigious award for it stands as a signal tribute to the huge voluntary effort by so many of our members over decades. I am also greatly encouraged that this Diamond Jubilee award also coincides with the completion of my 60 years of rescue-archaeology in Kent which started with my first excavation as a school-boy at Reculver in 1952. Our latest excavations are in the Darent Valley, at Eynsford.

Contact: Edna Mynott, Tel. 01689 860939 (West Kent) or 01304 203279 (East Kent).

A book "Archaeology in the Front Line", about 50 years of rescue-work, available at the special reduced rate of £8, plus £3 post, from: Roman Painted House, Dover CTl7 9AJ.

Press Release: 21st June, 2013.