Butley Ferry volunteers collect Queen's Award from Lord Lieutenant

Queens Award for Butley Ferry

Queens Award for Volunteering was presented to Butley Ferry by Suffolk Lord Lieutenant Claire, Countess of Euston. - Credit: CHARLOTTE BOND

Volunteers from one of the oldest, but least-known, transport routes in Suffolk have been formally presented with their Queen's Award by Lord Lieutenant Clare, Countess of Euston.

The Butley Ferry, which dates back to 1383, takes pedestrians across the Butley River to allow them to complete attractive walks around Orford, Sudbourne and Chillesford, is operated between Easter and October by a team of volunteers.

It is one of only two oar-powered ferries left in the country - the other is at Walberswick at the mouth of the River Blyth.

Butley Ferry

Butley Ferry has been operating since the 14th century. - Credit: Gregg Brown

There are 15 volunteers who take turns to operate the ferry and a further eight or nine who help to support the charity.

They all gathered at the Plough and Sail pub in Orford on Sunday to receive the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service from Lady Euston after it was announced in the summer.

Head Ferryman Roy Truman said everyone associated with the ferry was delighted at the award and it was wonderful to receive it at the end of a very busy summer.

He said: "We've seen a lot more people using it because I think more people are staying here for holidays because they can't travel so far. We had been carrying about 1,000 people a year. This year we've taken 1,250.

"But we shan't be getting a bigger boat. You can't haveĀ  bigger boat with oars and we can't have an electric boat because its so shallow where we go."

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He did not think they would be over-run however because the only way to reach it is by a three-mile walk or cycle ride, there is no access for cars. "If a lot of people arrive at once, they just have to wait a few minutes for the ferry to take a few trips!" He said.

As well as the boost from local holidays, the ferry also got a boost by its appearance in this year's Netflix film about Sutton Hoo, The Dig.

In that the ferry doubled for another ferry that carried Basil Brown and his bike across the river to get to Mrs Pretty's home at Sutton Hoo - but in real life Butley Ferry stopped operating in the the 1930s before being revived in the 1990s.

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