SHARE Volunteer Awards 2017: Don’t Forget to Nominate!

Volunteers at Rayleigh Mill

Volunteers at Rayleigh Windmill, who won the Museums + Heritage Volunteer Award in 2014


The deadline for nominations has been extended until 1st May


Forget the Oscars, the BAFTAs and the BRIT Awards, the glitziest night of the year is the annual SHARE Volunteer Awards. These awards are museums’ opportunity to say “thank you” to the people who give their time, energy and passion to collections and visitors out of love for what they do. There is also a category for Volunteer Managers, who could either be volunteers themselves or paid members of staff supporting volunteers within their museum.


Essex museums have previously done quite well at these awards. Last year, Dick Waylen at the Museum of Power was Highly Commended in the Bringing Innovation category, Jacquie McGregor Hall at Chelmsford Museum was Highly Commended in the Learning Volunteer category and the team at Maldon Museum received the Judges Special Award.


You can nominate teams as well as individuals and there are eight categories:


  • Working Together
  • Outstanding Young Volunteer
  • Volunteer Management
  • Unsung Heroes
  • Learning Volunteer
  • Front of House Volunteer
  • Trustee Board Award
  • Collections Champion


Given how many passionate and dedicated volunteers we have in the county, it would be great to see a lot of nominations from Essex, especially from museums which are entire volunteer-run as these have been under-represented in the past. Who in your museum always goes the “extra-mile”? Has the work of an individual or group made a significant impact on what happens at your museum? Have your trustees worked hard to provide the wider team through a recent rough patch? This is your chance to show your appreciation.

Information about the awards, the different categories and how to make nominations can be found on the SHARE Museums East website.

The nomination form does ask for images, but please don’t let a lack of photos stop you from putting in an application.


The deadline for nominations is Monday 1st May (extended from 21st April). The ceremony itself will be on Thursday 8th June at the Museum of East Anglian Life in Stowmarket.

Be A “Mega Star” With CREST Awards

CREST Award LogoThanks for the great work of the Royal Opera House Bridge we are very familiar with the Arts Award scheme here in Essex. But did you know there is also a scheme which provides qualifications for young people learning in science subjects too?

Last week I talked about the British Science Association’s Science Week. Today, I’m following up by introducing their CREST Scheme.

CREST Star is their scheme for children aged 5 to 12. It has 3 levels:

  • Star for 5 to 7 year olds
  • Super Star for 7 to 11 year olds
  • Mega Star for 8 to 12 year olds

Children participating in Star take part in a series of 1 hour activities. For every activity they complete, they get a sticker to put in their log book (which can be downloaded for free from the website). Once the log book is full they get their certificate.

While the British Science Association have created many activities themselves it is possible to become a CREST partner and have science activities accredited by the scheme. It is possible that sessions you already offer schools, youth groups etc  could be accredited in this way.

The CREST Awards are the BSA’s offer for young people aged over 11. There are four levels of award. The first level is Discovery. This bridges the gap between CREST Star and CREST Awards. It can be delivered in 5 hours and is envisioned as “CREST in a day”. This other three levels are based on projects undertaken by the participants:

  • Bronze – 10 hours of activity
  • Silver – 30 hours
  • Gold – 70 hours

Project ideas can come from the young people, teachers/youth leaders or organisations like ours. However, the decision should be student-led, so that they choose a topic they are interested in.

Once the participants have completed their project, their work is assessed and (if successful) they will receive a personalised certificate.

CREST Awards are endorsed by UCAS (the body that oversees applications to universities) and also count towards Duke of Edinburgh Awards and the Children’s University Passport to Learning. As they are an accredited qualification, there is a small per-pupil fee involved to cover assessment costs, details of which can be found here.

As mentioned in my last post, the definition of science is a broad one. Activities could be in many areas that your museum covers such as natural history, archaeology, medicine, forensics, engineering, technology and social sciences.

Many museums are moving away from history and towards science in their offer to schools. This may be a good way of accrediting your offer and making it more attractive to teachers.

Have a think about what you’re already offering it could be but you already have activities that could be parts of the CREST scheme visit the British Science Association website and investigate further.

Museum + Heritage Awards

Museum + Heritage Awards 2014

The team from Rayleigh Windill being presented with their award by Sue Perkins

Tonight the national “Museums + Heritage Awards”  are taking place in London. Last year Rayleigh Windmill won the award for Best Customer Service. Sophie Manus, Leisure and Community Safety Assistant at Rochford District Council, talks about the experience:

“When I was asked to put Rayleigh Windmill forward for the Museums + Heritage Awards 2014, we were all very dubious as to how much chance we actually stood in these National awards, up against big names such as The V&A. But it was agreed that entering would be a positive and proactive thing to do, even though the Windmill is just a small museum in Rayleigh.

Volunteers at Rayleigh Windmill

We decided to enter under the Best Customer Service category, and so I went about pulling together information and images that showed the lengths our dedicated volunteers go to, to deliver the very best customer service. This process in itself was very rewarding, taking the time to put into words how hard the volunteers work and how much time they give to the Windmill. I found myself becoming quite passionate about really putting in the best application I could, to do justice to our fantastic volunteers.

Finding out we had been shortlisted was incredibly exciting and being able to pass the news on to the volunteers was wonderful. You can only imagine their reactions when we found out we had won! A small museum in Rayleigh had won a National award for Customer Service – who would have thought it! And what a wonderful way to say thank you to the volunteers. They are so proud of their award, it’s now on display as you enter the Windmill.

Museum + Heritage Award 2014

Of course, the publicity we received was also fantastic and being able to say we have won this award gives so much credibility to the attraction and museum. It has also motivated the volunteers even more to continue to strive to deliver the best customer service and best visitor experience they can.

I would really encourage any museum to enter. I think we are proof that it’s not just the ‘big players’ that win the awards, each application is considered equally and anyone can win!

Please visit our website to find out more about Rayleigh Windmill