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Volunteers who give up their time to play a vital role in the running of council events, have been awarded the county council’s highest honour.

Representatives from the 600-strong group of Festival Makers headed to County Hall to accept the Chairman’s Medal from Durham County Council’s Vice Chairman Cllr John Lethbridge.

The Chairman’s Medal is the highest honour Durham County Council can award to individuals and organisations for outstanding voluntary contribution to the county and in awarding them Cllr Lethbridge recognised their time given and their dedication.

He said: “This is our most prestigious civic honour and I’m delighted to award it to our Festival Makers who dedicate their time to ensuring our schedule of events run smoothly for the thousands of people who attend.

“They help us to bring people together, to enjoy themselves and feel the sense of community which makes Durham such a special place.”

Big events such as Lumiere, BRASS and Bishop Auckland Food Festival rely on volunteers who are tasked with handing out flyers, being a point of contact for queries and generally being the face of the festivals. 240,000 visitors attended Lumiere in 2017 across the four nights of the festival.

Julie Lavery, Durham County Council’s volunteer and skills manager, said: “Becoming a Festival Maker is not only a rewarding way of giving something back to your community, it also allows you backstage access to some of the biggest events in our county, enhances your CV and can boost confidence and self-esteem.

“We’re extremely grateful to all of our volunteers who donate their time to ensure our events are that little bit more special, making visitors welcome and ensuring they want to come back to County Durham year after year.”

To find out more about the many volunteering opportunities with Durham County Council search for the volunteering portal at