Bedfordshire Festival of Music, Speech & Drama presented with the Queen’s Award

Bedordshire festival of speech music and drama
Volunteers receive their award from the Lord-Lieutenant, Helen Nellis

Volunteers from The Bedfordshire Festival of Music, Speech & Drama were presented with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service (QAVS) at a ceremony held at the Swan Hotel last Wednesday (4 September).

The award was presented by the Lord-Lieutenant, Helen Nellis, in recognition of the volunteers’ dedication and commitment to the festival which is entering its 99th year.

Each March, the Festival stages an annual week-long event at the Corn Exchange Complex allowing nearly 2,000 singers, musicians and dramatists of all disciplines and ages the opportunity to perform in public whilst receiving feedback from professional adjudicators who are specialists in their fields.

“We really hope that this award will help to raise awareness of this fantastic annual event in Bedfordshire’s cultural calendar,” said Festival chairman, Julia Smith. “We hope it  encourages even more entries so that as we approach our Centenary we achieve record numbers of participants taking part to begin our next 100 years”.

The Festival, which is a Charity and is entirely self-funded, is run by a committee of volunteers and a part-time secretary.

Entrants vary from school singing and drama groups, to community choirs, world music groups and those just wanting an opportunity to be able to perform in public.

A full list of the classes available and how to enter is available to download from their website.

It is also an ideal platform for those taking exams in the performing arts to be able to practice performing their piece of work in front of an audience in a wonderfully supportive environment.

The award ceremony included several performances from musicians and dramatists who performed in last year’s Festival and included: Rebecca Woolley (singing), Eva Berman (speech & drama), Aidan & Alex Cham (cello) and Jonathan Hosking (speech & drama).

“This award is testimony to the hard work, dedication and commitment of all our volunteers, without whom the Festival simply would not be able to take place each year,” said Julia.

“We are extremely proud that we are the first Festival to ever receive such an accolade.

The Festival is about to enter its 99thyear, so the award also recognises how it’s evolved and changed over time since its inception in 1921, and remains relevant to the needs of the Bedfordshire Community today.”

The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service is the highest award given to local volunteer groups across the UK to recognise outstanding work done in their communities. It was created in 2002 to celebrate the anniversary of the Queen’s coronation and is equivalent to an MBE for volunteer groups.

If you would like to find out more about the Festival or offer to volunteer, please email

Now more than ever, we need your help to fund the Bedford Independent’s quality journalism that serves our community...

We choose to champion editorial independence, meaning we report the facts without bias and can stand up to those in power when we believe it’s needed.

We can give a voice to people in our community whose voices may otherwise not be heard. And we don’t have a paywall, so everyone can read the stories we publish for free.

But in this time of crisis, many news organisations all over the world are facing existential threat, with advertising revenues plummeting. We’re no different.

We work hard every day to bring you news, commentary, entertainment and announcements from across Bedford. We hope that, with your help, we’ll be able to continue this for many years to come.

Will you help sustain our work today by clicking below ? Even a small donation makes a difference for our future.

Thank you for your support.