A ‘MBE’ for voluntary groups has been given to Didcot Railway Centre in recognition of its work to ‘sustain and preserve’ the country’s engineering heritage.

The centre has become one of only 30 organisations in Oxfordshire to receive the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Services since it was first created 15 years ago.

Seen as an equivalent to the MBE, the national honour recognises charities or voluntary-run groups that meet a need or provide a service and do so to the highest standards.

John Harwood, Vice Lord-Lieutenant of Oxfordshire, presented the award at a short ceremony on Saturday.

He said the award’s assessors had been impressed by the centre’s links with local schools and drive to involve women and girls in activities.

He added: “The centre preserves and sustains one of the most important parts of our country’s engineering heritage, and does so in a way which attracts large number of visitors, many of them from well beyond Oxfordshire, and continues to inspire the young people of today.”

“I wish the Centre continued success and further achievements in the future.”

Ann Middleton, commercial manager, said, it was ‘honoured and proud’ to receive the award, adding: “This is one of the biggest moments in our 50 year history, and is a great reflection on the work and efforts of the many volunteers that help run and sustain the centre”.