THAT the team of volunteers who work tirelessly behind the scenes of the Swaledale Festival have been recognised for their efforts with an MBE is testament to their dedication.

Founded in 1972, the Swaledale Festival is an annual festival of music and arts based in the three most northerly Yorkshire Dales - Swaledale, Wensleydale and Arkengarthdale – and relies heavily on its volunteers.

Swaledale Festival volunteers were recognised with the MBE for volunteer groups – the Queens Award for Voluntary Service – and the news was officially released half-way through the festival.

Festival volunteers take on vital roles including event stewarding, hosting and transporting performers, box office, distributing brochures, and helping with marketing activities.

It is fantastic to see a festival which brings world-class performers to the most remote of venues in the Yorkshire Dales thriving, and that its volunteers have been given such an accolade.

The festival is no stranger to awards however. It has picked up six major awards in recent years, including an international award for ‘inclusivity and artistic excellence’ for a play commissioned by artistic director Malcolm Creese in 2009; Dalesman Magazine’s top award for artistic and cultural achievement in 2011; Richmondshire District Council’s community group of the year in 2012; and in 2014 it was picked by David Cameron to receive the Big Society Award for education.

Not bad for a festival with such deeply rural roots, and artistic director Malcolm Creese must be congratulated for creating an event which is surely a jewel in the Dales' crown.