Gallery volunteer wins national award

Volunteer Elizabeth Stainforth has been recognised for her outstanding work at the Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery.

Elizabeth was awarded the Marsh Volunteer Award 2010 for the Yorkshire region in a ceremony at the British Museum.  The 'Volunteers for Museum Learning' awards are run in partnership by the British Museum and the Marsh Christian Trust, and recognise the hugely valuable contribution that volunteers make in helping museums to engage with their visitors.

Elizabeth, who works part-time at the Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery and at the University Library, was recognised for her work as a volunteer during 2010, when she organised and delivered educational workshops for the Gallery.  She developed her own project - Identity: Express! - for local schoolchildren, which was funded by a Community Initiative grant from the University's Access and Community Engagement team. As part of the project, Elizabeth trained other volunteers to lead a series of workshops on the theme of identity. One of the aims of the project was to encourage and inform children who might not traditionally engage with their local heritage, visit galleries or aspire to attend university. The participating schools were Quarry Mount Primary and Brudenell Primary.

Gallery Curator Layla Bloom said: "I'm overjoyed that Elizabeth's hard work as a Gallery volunteer has been highlighted in this way, on a national stage.  She is so creative and hardworking - all without expecting anything in return!  Like many museums and galleries, we rely on dedicated and inspirational volunteers like Elizabeth, and we really couldn't do it without them. We're so grateful that the Marsh Christian Trust has chosen to reward great museum volunteers in the UK."

The aim of the 'Volunteers for Museum Learning' award is to recognise volunteers who work directly with museum visitors. This could involve leading a school group, staffing an information desk, helping with family activities, running a guided tour or other ways in which volunteers provide a service to museum visitors.

There were over 60 applications in total, some from groups of volunteers and some from individuals. The judges were staff from the Marsh Trust, staff and volunteers from the British Museum and a representative from a regional museum, which this year was Kate Davies from English Heritage.  The British Museum hosted the awards, being very aware of the crucial contribution volunteers make to the well-being of the Museum and its enjoyment by the public.  The nine winners each received a cash prize of £500.

Andrew Burnett, Deputy Director of the British Museum, said:  "The Marsh Awards recognise the vital work that volunteers do in museums across the country. Museums large and small are reliant on the contribution volunteers make to ensure the smooth and successful running of their organisation. We are very grateful to the Marsh Christian Trust for recognising this work and inaugurating this award."

The 'Volunteers for Museum Learning' award forms part of a programme of 41 awards presented by the Marsh Christian Trust in the fields of science, ecology, conservation, heritage, literature and volunteering. Each award recognises individuals and organisations who devote their lives to improving the world today and the world in the future. The Marsh awards programme is managed in association with key partners including the Zoological Society of London, English Heritage, Barnardo's, the Refugee Council and the British Museum.

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