There was a surprise in store when Wiltshire Lord Lieutenant Sarah Rose Troughton presented the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service to the Bluez ’n’ Zuz discos for teenagers started by police and helpers in Marlborough seven years ago.
On Friday Mrs Troughton presented the award to Superintendent Jerry Dawson who was the town’s inspector when he and his officers came up with the idea of running discos for 11-15 year olds to provide them with an activity in a safe environment.
The two surprise presentations were to Mark Gent and Andrew Moyes, who own the Azuza club in Hughenden Yard where the discos started in 2005 and still take place once a month under the watchful eye of off-duty police officers and helpers, including some of the town’s part-time fire fighters.
Assistant Chief Constable Steve Hedley presented Mr Gent and Mr Moyes with Chief Constable’s certificates, recognising their community commitment and support for Bluez ’n’ Zuz by allowing them to use the club free of charge.
Among those present were PC Emma Brown who helped launch the idea together with PCSO John Bordiss and Louise Haddock, who were among the original helpers.
Miss Haddock, whose father Steve was a police officer, said: “Nobody expected it to last as long as it has, it has exceeded all of our expectations.”
Before presenting the Queen’s award Mrs Trough-ton said: “This is the highest award given to voluntary groups and it recognises a national benchmark for excellence among volunteers.” She said Marlborough Bluez ‘n’ Zuz was among only 112 organisations nationwide to get the awards in 2012.
Praising the concept of providing young people with entertainment in a safe environment Mrs Troughton said: “Its success is due to the hard work of the police officers and volunteers who manage it,” adding that Bluez ’n’ Zuz helped created a good relationship between the police and young people.
Supt Dawson told the assembled volunteers: “This is a fabulous award and I am honoured to be standing here tonight on your behalf to receive it. This recognises all the hard work and commitment you have all put in over the past seven years,” he said. Supt Dawson said similar teenage discos were being run all over the UK but added: “Remember, Marlbor-ough was the birthplace of Bluez ’n’ Zuz.”