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Wythenshawe FM collects Queen's Award

From a press release to news@media.info
Posted 10 August 2014, 4.38pm edt

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Community radio station Wythenshawe FM has received the prestigious Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, which has equivalent status as the MBE, at a special ceremony at Gorton Monastery in east Manchester on Wednesday 6 August. It is the first community radio station in the North West to be granted this honour.

The station’s Mike George and Jason Kenyon collected an engraved commemorative crystal trophy and a certificate signed by Her Majesty the Queen presented by Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Greater Manchester, Warren Smith and the Vice Lord-Lieutenant, Mrs Edith Conn.

Wythenshawe FM started life as a series of temporary broadcasts and became one of the UK's very first full-time community radio station in 2002, getting a full-time licence in 2006. The station has an estimated potential of 100,000 listeners a month and streams shows on-line at www.wfmradio.org reaching a wider audience – 24 hours a day.

Mike George, a long-standing volunteer presenter at the station commenting on the award said: “Throughout our long history, volunteers have been the bedrock of our operation, up to 80 volunteers being actively involved on a weekly basis. Our motto is, 'Radio for the People, by the People' and quite literally, it's kept on air by the commitment and loyalty of its volunteers. The longevity of the station in the face of funding cuts, the fact that Wythenshawe, in spite of all its problems, has a voice for residents - is nothing but amazing.”

The 60 or so presenters, all voluntary, give a total of almost 250 hours a week to Wythenshawe FM. There are also two people who form the news team, finding local stories.

Mike added: "For every one hour of broadcasting, there can be at least another hour of preparation. Pre-recorded interviews, music selection, chasing items of local and national interest - all contribute to the additional time spent. Besides standard shows there are a number of specialist shows to cater of local people. One show we’re particularly proud of is linked to Wythenshawe Hospital, which is received at the patients' bedsides through the Hospedia units. We are incredibly grateful to our talented team of volunteers who keep us on air 24 hours a day.”

The station, part of the charity Wythenshawe Community Media, is currently supported by The Manchester College, part of the Forum Trust, who provide the station with an office and a small studio in the Forum Learning Centre.

Wythenshawe FM is unique in that it has a blind presenter, Kath Fordham who, helped by Dave Cox, Volunteer Support Worker, one of the two part-time paid workers. A presenter, Billy supported by Mencap also has a weekly show, as well as Stephen, a 23year old who is in a motorised wheelchair.

The group's application was supported by local MP Paul Goggins and Radio Regen Director, Phil Korbel.

Commenting on Wythenshawe FM’s award, The Lord-Lieutenant of Greater Manchester, Warren Smith, said: “Wythenshawe FM is a very deserving voluntary organisation, which helps improve the lives of local people. This prestigious award, the equivalent to getting an MBE, champions best practice in volunteering. We know there are many other organisations out there doing incredible work and contributing so much to their communities and we hope more unsung heroes are nominated for next year’s awards.”

In total thirteen voluntary groups from across the county received an award this year.

The closing date for nominations for the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service 2015 is 30 September 2014. For information on how to nominate a group, visit gov.uk.

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