May 4, 2022 4.30 pm This story is over 24 months old

Top honour Lincoln Civic Award goes to local history society

Lincolnshire Fire & Rescue Concert Band “highly commended”

Lincoln’s historic Guildhall rang to the sound of rousing applause after guests gathered to congratulate the latest winner of the city’s top honour – Society for Lincolnshire History & Archaeology (SLHA).

The award ceremony, which returned after a two-year break due to COVID-19, saw the Mayor of Lincoln, Councillor Jackie Kirk, presented the award to SLHA at a celebration ceremony on Tuesday, May 3.

Henry Ruddock, Chairman of the Civic Award Trustees, revealed the judges had also recommended the Lincolnshire Fire & Rescue Concert Band should be commended.

The Mayor of Lincoln began the proceedings by accepting the return of the striking award from the previous winners – custodians of the New Theatre Royal Lincoln Mike and Natalie Hayes-Cowley. They received a replica and the Mayor then congratulated the latest winner, presenting the coveted award to SLHA chairman Ian George.

Mr George said: “We are extremely grateful to receive the Civic Award. It is a huge honour. We rely on the hard work of volunteers and this is a tribute to those who have gone before as well as today’s.”

He added that the society, which offers day schools, excursions and has a highly successful bookshop, had been growing its following throughout the coronavirus pandemic, helped through the use of new media.

This year’s winner joins a celebrated list, which features former University of Lincoln Vice Chancellor Mary Stuart, ex-Lincoln City managers Danny and Nicky Cowley, Clayton Dewandre, Ruston Gas Turbines, Lincoln Canoe Club, John Inverdale, and Billy Jackson.

SLHA’s roots stretch back 178 years to 1844 and the formation of the Lincolnshire Agricultural and Archaeological Society, which published reports and papers relating to the wider county, as well as Lincoln’s rich heritage.

It continued to develop between the two world wars, forging links with other counties, starting a collection of artefacts and producing publications of local histories and magazines.

The year 1930 was a milestone year as the society was instrumental in saving the city’s Jews Court from demolition and placing it into a Trust, along with another nationally important site, Bardney Abbey.

That Trust still exists today and SLHA continues to rent the Jews Court and further amalgamation in 1974 has led to the society people see and love today, which now boasts more than 700 members worldwide.

Lincolnshire Fire & Rescue Concert Band Chairman Terry Coffey receives the Band’s Highly Commended award from Lincoln’s Mayor Councillor Jackie Kirk.

After the councillor Kirk had welcomed everyone, Mr Ruddock said building company director Frank Eccleshare had originally presented the award to the city in celebration of his year as Mayor. It was to be awarded annually to a person or organisation who lived or earned a living in Lincoln.

The “highly commended” Lincolnshire Fire & Rescue Concert Band was born in 2009 – thanks to the integration of the well-established Lincolnshire Concert Band (which ceased to exist as such) with Lincolnshire Fire & Rescue.

Today’s band’s roots can be traced back to the 1970s and a journey which has seen it grow in popularity through performances at home, beyond the county’s borders and overseas. The band has a repertoire of more than 600 pieces.

Band chairman Terry Coffey, who was accompanied by fellow musicians and Lincoln’s chief fire officer Mark Baxter, received its special commendation from the Mayor.

He said: “We are very pleased to receive this prestigious award. It is a badge of honour. The Band is totally inclusive, our members are voluntary and we play to a professional standard.”

The striking silver Civic Award was made by the late Lincoln silversmith Derek Birch. It aims to recognise a company, organisation or individual which has brought honour to Lincoln.