The Queen's Award for Voluntary Service
The Queen's Award for Voluntary Service

Queen’s Award winning REACT Foundation receives high praise for volunteers who inspire “light bulb moments” in young people

LIKE seeing a line of little light bulbs go on, is how one volunteer describes the inspirational effect The Queen’s Award winning REACT Foundation has on young people’s lives.

On 2nd June 2020, The REACT Foundation charity was awarded The Queen's Award for Voluntary Service, the highest award given to UK volunteer groups, equivalent to an MBE.

Pete Woolaghan, co-founder and chairman of the REACT Foundation, which inspires young people across Cumbria to enjoy science and engineering, said the award was recognition for the amazing job done by the group’s volunteers.

Pete, who set up the Foundation along with pioneering business REACT Engineering’s co-founders more than 15 years ago, said:

This award is about the volunteers. They are the people who give the REACT Foundation life. It’s their creativity, their ingenuity, their energy, which keeps it fresh.

The Foundation was set up in 2004 when forward-thinking REACT Engineering wanted to mark its 10th anniversary in a meaningful way.

We didn’t just want to have a cake and a party, said Pete. I want the REACT Foundation to open young people’s eyes to what opportunities are out there so they can make informed decisions. I don’t want one young person in Cumbria growing up not knowing about engineering and science. It may not be for them. But I want to make sure no child grows up without knowing it’s an option, and therefore doesn’t miss out on opportunities.

One of those inspiring volunteers, and a trustee of the Foundation, Kayleigh Daniels, 31, said:

The Foundation raises young people’s aspirations. They can see that the whole world opens up for them. It encourages young people to be the best they can be.

Luke Todd was inspired by REACT Foundation trips and subsequently won a Sixth Form Award bursary with the Foundation and is studying Mechanical Engineering at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Luke, 19, from Maryport, who has just completed his first year at university, said:

It was the REACT Foundation which helped me realise my true potential by showcasing what a future in engineering might look like.

Kyle Hannah, 26, is further down the career path, working as a consultant engineer for REACT Engineering and volunteering for the REACT Foundation, including running activities for young children at the weekly REACTioneers club.

Kyle said:

I have learned a lot through volunteering, from the science point of view, but also from the students we work with. The way they approach things and the knowledge they have is amazing. It has opened my eyes to the potential they have and the importance of helping them reach it through the work of the Foundation.

Irene McMillan, who has volunteered for the REACT Foundation ever since it first started in 2004, has been responsible for forging productive, long-lasting partnerships with parents, children, schools, colleges and businesses, and organising fellow volunteers for its events.

Irene said:

I do get a lump in my throat when I see all the smiles on the faces of everyone - children, parents, and teachers - on our annual awards night. There’s a real feel-good factor. It is those moments when you realise the impact we are having and that together we have made this happen.

Volunteer Lauren Rowlands, said:

Everyone involved in the Foundation wants to see young people succeed and reach their full potential. Seeing the difference it makes, and seeing the children grow in confidence, is fantastic.

Phil Redfern, managing director of REACT Engineering which supports the REACT Foundation with both time and financial backing, is full of praise for all the charity’s volunteers.

Phil said:

We support the REACT Foundation because it’s the right thing to do and we fundamentally believe in what it is trying to do. For us it’s in our DNA as an organisation, and in the DNA of our people, that we want to help others. As a company we will certainly be continuing to support the Foundation and look forward to seeing what direction the volunteers take it in, and what new ideas they come up with.

Pat Graham, chief executive of Copeland Council, who nominated the REACT Foundation for the award, said:

We have seen first-hand the inspiration and excitement and the opportunities they bring for young people in Cumbria. It’s a real feather in Cumbria’s cap to have an organisation like the REACT Foundation being recognised in this way and receiving The Queen’s Award.

Fran Ward, co-director of C-STEM, said:

Always engaging and exciting, the REACT Foundation gives young Cumbrians experiences and opportunities which truly open their eyes. If you could put all the little light bulb moments together which have been inspired by these amazing volunteers you could power the National Grid from the REACT Foundation.

We use cookies to improve our website and your experience when using it. Cookies used for the essential operation of this site have already been set. For more on the cookies we use, see our privacy policy.

  I accept cookies from this site.