In this new blog series, join our Museum Development Officer, Stephanie Clemens, as she travels around the Duchy delivering some much-awaited certificates and plaques to the winners of the 2020 Cornwall Heritage Awards! Following our virtual awards ceremony in October we are thrilled to now be able to deliver these awards to their recipients in person this Summer. Buckle up and join us for the road trip…
2020, do we really need to look back again? Well, yes, because there were some great things that happened, and among them was the online celebration for the Cornwall Heritage Awards entrants and winners. We managed a bit of glitz and glamour, we managed celebratory food and drink, we managed speeches and we even managed a convivial atmosphere, but one thing we couldn’t do was hand over the trophies and certificates. Posting them out seemed a bit underwhelming and lacking in photo opportunities, so we optimistically planned to hand deliver the trophies after the event. Unfortunately, we were thwarted by subsequent lockdowns and our hopes of road tripping from Porthcurno to Bude receded into the distant future.
But, with restrictions lifted and vaccines rolled out, it’s finally happening, and I’m delighted to say three of our fabulous winners are now able to display their trophies and certificates. And what a way to start off our trophy road trip in Saltash: the incredible volunteers at the Tamar Protection Society certainly know how to put on a good afternoon tea party!
Our Marketing Intern, Natalie, and I headed up to Mary Newman’s Cottage to congratulate both TPS and their neighbours Saltash Heritage on their wins. In the beautiful rose-filled Tudor garden, I was able to present TPS with their award for Best Festival, Event or Exhibition for their Tudor Afternoon event. TPS had put on this event to make the most of the unique atmosphere at Mary Newman’s Cottage and to draw in new audiences to experience a bit of Tudor life for themselves. It was a great success and they received lots positive feedback – do look out for more Tudor events in the future. The musicians who played at the original event had been invited back for the trophy presentation, which certainly gave the afternoon a very appropriate celebratory flair. Gerry Sweet of TPS said, “The Heritage Awards are a splendid way to showcase the rich and diverse collection of heritage organisations working throughout Cornwall. We at the Tamar Protection Society were thrilled and honoured to be recognised as the winner in the Best Event category for our Tudor Afternoon at Mary Newman’s Cottage, Saltash. The award has spurred us on to develop other events in order to attract a different and more varied audience.” This is completely what the Awards are about!
I also had the pleasure of presenting Saltash Heritage with their Award for Wellbeing. Both TPS and Saltash Heritage are entirely volunteer run, and Saltash Heritage entered the Heritage Awards with a gold-standard approach to showing appreciation for their valued volunteers. Following a previous Heritage Awards win (they are no strangers to excellence), the committee devised ‘The Puzzle” – a jigsaw where each piece represented one of the 65 volunteers within the board of the museum. They were told that if even just one piece of that puzzle were missing, the museum would not be working to its full potential. Even better, every volunteer was surprised at their annual after-Christmas party that year with a silver puzzle piece to attach to their lanyards: a constant reminder of their value and collective dedication to the museum. Lizzy Sharpe-Asprey, Hon Secretary, said: “Holding the latest award I felt my team worked beautifully together to produce the end result, of lots of tears and hugs, that just made it for us. We will proudly place the new award on our museum wall for everyone to admire.”
One of the highlights of our afternoon in Saltash was the privilege of meeting a young volunteer from Saltash Heritage. Robert John Barrett received a Highly Commended certificate in the One To Watch category, which aims to say thank you to all the young volunteers who give their time to museums and heritage organisations in Cornwall. Robert, who is Autistic, has undertaken two incredible pieces of work to make a photographic record of Fore Street and to work his way through the museum’s collections photographing the 3D objects and scanning archive documents. Both of these activities contribute to the long term understanding and celebration of Saltash’s history. Robert has become part of the Saltash Heritage team, developing his social skills and growing in confidence in a workplace environment. The rest of the team have gained experience and understanding of autism and have become advocates for the many positives of having a person with autism on board. Robert, his family and the museum team speak openly about autism and it’s inspiring to hear their positivity. As extra recognition, Robert received a certificate from the Mayor of Saltash. The week after the presentation, Robert’s father Andrew gave this reflection: “Describing his feelings and emotions is difficult for Autistic people like Robert, but I have spoken with him and he is proud of his awards and enjoyed the afternoon and tea.” I’d venture that Saltash is very proud of him too.
Our second trophy drop was to Wheal Martyn China Clay Museum, where I was able to present another Award for Wellbeing. Over the 18 months prior to the Heritage Awards, staff at Wheal Martyn had worked with a range of partners (Heritage Ability, Sensory Trust, Spectrum, Brannel School and Badger Forrest School) to make a number of interventions onsite to improve inclusivity for both visitors and staff and volunteers. Improvements to the site’s accessibility have included creating an easy read guide for people with learning difficulties, making Wheal Martyn a registered ‘safe place’ if people need help when out in their local area, as well as creating BSL clips and installing a hearing loop for visitors who are deaf or hard of hearing. They have also created visual stories, sensory backpacks and made a designated quiet zone to assist visitors with autism, anxiety and other associated conditions. They introduced a relaxed session in the museum which received fantastic feedback from the families who attended and who have since returned to explore the site further.
They have found that improving access has not only helped the group it was intended for, but has improved the experience for other visitors as well. They have continued in their efforts to make Wheal Martyn as welcoming as they can and give all their visitors the best experience possible. The regular Memory Café and Arts and Crafts for Health sessions are well established and the museum’s ethos of inclusivity has become embedded in their practice. It was a pleasure to deliver this trophy to some of the wonderful staff and volunteers.
The most wonderful thing about delivering the trophies has been finally being able to meet everyone in person nearly a year after I came to CMP. Thank you to everyone at Tamar Protection Society, Saltash Heritage and Wheal Martyn for being so welcoming and so utterly brilliant at what they do.
Three trophies down, eight to go. Our road trip continues over the summer…
– Stephanie Clemens, Museum Development Officer
Saltash Photo Credits: Bruce Hunt