Members of 59 Commando Squadron Royal Engineers at work on a new bothy at Camasunary. Photo: Major Iain Lamont

Members of 59 Commando Squadron Royal Engineers at work on a new bothy at Camasunary. Photo: Major Iain Lamont

The charity that cares for mountain shelters in the UK has received an honour from the Queen.

The Mountain Bothies Association has gained the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK.

The MBA is one of 187 charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups across the UK to receive the award this year. The award will be presented to Simon Birch, MBA Chairman, by Bristol’s Lord Lieutenant later in the summer.

Mr Birch said: “We are very proud to have received this award. It recognises the huge efforts that have been made by many, many volunteers over the half century that the MBA has been in existence.

“These volunteers have restored, and continue to maintain as open shelters, buildings that are greatly valued by those who explore the remoter parts of the country on foot or by bike.

“I also want to pay tribute to the owners of these buildings without whose generosity none of this work would have been possible.

Simon Birch, chairman of the Mountain Bothies Association

Simon Birch, chairman of the Mountain Bothies Association

“Bothies have a long tradition within the outdoor community and indeed can be a lifesaver if the weather deteriorates unexpectedly or a hillwalking route turns out to be more arduous than expected.

“It is now 50 years since the association was formed and the first building, at Tunskeen in Galloway, was restored. Enthusiasm remains as high as ever and the association is looking forward to many more years caring for these unique buildings.”

The MBA was established in 1965 and has about 3,700 members. It undertakes the restoration and maintenance of a number of old cottages, huts and similar buildings throughout the wilder parts of Scotland, England and Wales for use as open shelters for walkers and other outdoor enthusiasts.

The shelters are unlocked and are available for anyone to use free of charge. Many of the buildings that are cared for by the MBA would otherwise have become derelict. The association currently looks after almost 100 bothies.

Only one of the buildings the association maintains is actually owned by the MBA; the others are made available through the generosity of their owners. All of the restoration and maintenance work is undertaken by volunteers and is financed by member subscriptions and by donations.

The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service is the highest award given to volunteer groups across the UK to recognise outstanding work in their communities. The awards were created in 2002 to celebrate the Queen’s golden jubilee and winners are announced each year on 2 June, the anniversary of the Queen’s coronation. It is the equivalent of the MBE for individuals.

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