Marsh Heritage Volunteer Award

This Award, run in partnership with the National Trust, recognises the contribution of groups of volunteers who work tirelessly for the nation's heritage.

In more recent years, due the the number of worthy applications, three prizes are now given to recognise a winner and two runners-up.

The 2012 winners are The volunteers at Acorn Bank Watermill

Acorn Bank Watermill

The three volunteers, Richard Harland, Ray Gill and Bob Price (pictured right, top) contributed to the restoration of the ancient mill at Acorn Bank, which had been out of use since WWII. They helped rebuild the complicated wooden structure and have shown considerable ingenuity in adapting engineering solutions to meet the differing goals of conservation, as all the engineering work had to be carried out without altering the existing historic equipment.

Sara Braithwaite, Custodian, Acorn Bank said “On Tuesday 20th September 2011 we ground flour at Acorn Bank Watermill for the first time, we believe, for more than 70 years and to our delight and amazement the whole thing went without a hitch- grain went in one end and came out as flour! This is the culmination of 4 years work by a small group of 3 volunteers, without whose enthusiasm, ingenuity and perseverance it wouldn’t have been possible.”

The volunteers at Coggleshall Saunders Collection were also awarded, with second place

The Saunders Tools Collection was donated to the National Trust by Coggeshall resident Janet Saunders in 2003. (She is pictured with volunteers above) The collection comprises the entire contents of the workshop of her father, Bryan Saunders, who was a respected woodcarver and furniture maker in Coggeshall from 1907 until the 1970s.

A dedicated team of 6 volunteers was established to arrange the exhibition of the collection. They redesigned a disused cow byre at Grange Barn to showcase the items.

The inside of the room has been overhauled to show the collection in a contemporary way, while maintaining the classic ‘workshop’ feel. The skills of the team have been put to use to make use of lighting and space, while providing secure storage for the pieces in the collection not on display.

Anna Forest, East of England Regional Curator for the National Trust speaking about the volunteers said:

"The project to display the Saunders Collection at Coggeshall Grange Barn may never have happened were it not for the dedication, enthusiasm and commitment of the volunteer team. The professionalism of the finished exhibition does justice to this fascinating collection, and brilliantly highlights the life and skill of a prominent local figure".

The volunteers of the Tyntesfield Stories were the third award winners.

The Tyntesfield Stories team are an inter-generational group of volunteers whose mission it was to work on a small existing oral history archive at Tyntesfield. The youngest volunteer is 15 years old and the oldest is in their 80s.

They created new systems to process oral history contributions and to record new material. The key element of their role was in sharing the stories they found with a wider audience. The group received expert training in filming, sound recording and editing from the local media company, Suited and Booted Studios CIC, and oral history training from Julia Letts, an oral history specialist.

The enthusiasm of the volunteers is reflected in an article written by the youngest volunteer for the Museum Association’s online oral history case studies. He writes:

“A year after the project started, my experience has and continues to amaze me as I see how diverse and interesting the history of Tyntesfield really is.”


The National Trust