BIRKENHEAD charity the Friends of Flaybrick have received The King's Award for Voluntary Service.

It is the highest award that a local voluntary group can receive in the UK, and it is equivalent to an MBE.

The Friends of Flaybrick is one of 262 local charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups from across the country to receive the prestigious award this year.

Chair of the group, Rob Dolphin, told the Globe: “It is my great joy and honour to accept the award on behalf of our charity. We have such a wonderful, hard working group of volunteers with a range of skills and abilities.

“This award gives true recognition to all members and volunteers, both past and present.

“I would like to take this opportunity, on behalf of the group, to say thank you to the people of Wirral and beyond who support us in all weathers and attend our guided walks, services of remembrance and open days in great numbers.”

The Friends of Flaybrick was established in 1993 by John Moffat, who today works as the secretary of the group, with the intent of bringing Flaybrick Memorial Gardens back into the community, and members and volunteers have worked hard ever since to achieve that aim.

Originally named Birkenhead Cemetery upon its establishment in May 1864, and then renamed Flaybrick Cemetery in 1955, the Friends succeeded in getting the site redesignated to Flaybrick Memorial Gardens in 1995.

In 2004, the Friends secured Flaybrick’s status as a Significant Cemetery in Europe, and in 2010 it became part of the European Cemeteries Route.

In more recent years, major works have taken place to partially restore the ruined chapels after Wirral Council was able to secure matched grant funding from Historic England.

The memorial gardens is the final resting place of more than 100,000 people. Many of those buried there are well known public figures from Birkenhead’s history including Charles Thompson, Mary Ann Mercer, who was both the first female mayor and the first socialist mayor of Birkenhead, and William Jackson, a former railway entrepreneur and Liberal Member of Parliament who, alongside John Laird, is considered one of the most influential of all of Birkenhead’s founding fathers.

Flaybrick also contains the war graves of more than 220 Commonwealth service personnel of both world wars.

Representatives of the Friends of Flaybrick will receive the KAVS crystal and certificate from Mark Blundell who is the Lord-Lieutenant of Merseyside and the King’s representative in the county, early in 2024.