News story

The Lightbox in Woking wins Prime Minister’s Big Society Award

A charity museum and gallery set up and run by a group of volunteers in Woking, Surrey, has won the Prime Minister's Big Society Award.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

The Lightbox received their award from the Prime Minister at a reception in Downing Street last week.

The local community raised more than £7 million to develop The Lightbox cultural centre through charitable events ranging from golf days and sponsored walks to auctions.

Staffed by more than 150 volunteers, the centre runs an award-winning education and outreach service focussed on history and the arts which sees community groups and schools work with professional artists in the centre’s purpose-built education studio.

Achievements by The Lightbox include:

  • creating 16 internships for young people
  • running a regular work experience programme with 10 schools throughout Surrey
  • winning the support of Woking  Borough Council, including donation of the building site and a capital contribution towards the construction

Congratulating The Lightbox on their award, The Prime Minister said:

 ”I recently met volunteers from The Lightbox and saw first-hand the dedication and passion they have shown to make their museum and gallery a reality. I am pleased to be able to present them with a Big Society award to recognise all their hard work.

The Lightbox shows what the Big Society is in so many ways; from volunteers giving their time and expertise, to winning the support of the whole community for their plan, to generating millions of pounds in donations to make it work. Even now more than 150 volunteers are putting in their time to provide this service to others in the community.

It just shows what people can do when they work together - it really is a fantastic achievement and I wish them every success for the future.

 Director of The Lightbox Marilyn Scott said:

We are delighted to have won a Big Society Award which reflects the tremendous endeavours of the volunteers who founded our organization and our true values to serve our community.

The Lightbox project began in 1993 when 70 local people decided to create a cultural centre in the area and embarked on a high level of consultation to understand what the public wanted. The volunteers’ hard work and commitment saw the centre officially open in 2007, with backing from Woking Borough Council, Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund, among others.

Now more than 60,000 visitors a year enjoy exhibitions, community-curated shows, drop-in free workshops for families, a schools’ development programme and lectures and events at The Lightbox.

View a full list of Big Society Award winners.

Published 3 December 2012