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Winners of the Community Archives and Heritage Awards, 2023

Sarah Cobham, in period costume, holding a blue plaque, near Wakefield town hall, with the blue plaque dedicated to Mary Francis Heaton; West Riding Pauper Lunatic Asylum, in 1818

Sarah Cobham, near Wakefield town hall, with the blue plaque dedicated to Mary Francis Heaton; West Riding Pauper Lunatic Asylum, in 1818. Credit: Gary Carlton of the Observer.

The winners of this year’s Community Archives and Heritage Awards were announced at the conference on 19th July, 2023.

The judges struggled to choose an overall winner in a very close contest between the three category winners, but chose Dream Time Creative for the sheer breadth of their endeavours and the work they had put in to creating long term sustainability.

Wakefield is now the first city in the UK with nearly as many blue plaques commemorating women as there are men – addressing centuries long imbalance in the history of their city.

From 29 entries to three winners

29 entries in the Community Archives and Heritage Awards were eventually whittled down to the three winners:

The judging panel also highly commended the Scottish Jewish Archives Centre, Sunny Bank Mills, Leyland Historical Society and Headford Lace.

They will also be awarding a Certificate of Special Achievement to the Scottish Jewish Archives Centre for sustained best practice.

An amazing array of groups

Alan Butler, Chair of the Community Archives and Heritage Group said:

“There was an amazing array of groups entering this year’s awards presenting a real variety of work. It made the work of the judging panel in choosing a winner quite difficult. In the end we felt that the overall winner – Dream Time Creative – exemplified what is best about community archives and heritage groups – bringing community together, gathering and preserving lost histories that help more people feel connected to where they live and celebrating their shared history. The other category winners also did this and Glenside Hospital Museum in Bristol who are winners of the Wellbeing Award are clearly making an impact with their community as is Remembering The Past in North Tyneside. It’s probably clear from the number of highly commendeds and our awarding of a certificate of special achievement that if we could, we’d have made everyone a winner!”

Absolutely delighted to be the overall winner

Group of women in period costume, celebrating The Abolitionists, Ann Hurst, Elizabeth Dawson & Sarah Parker Remond exhibition at Chantry Chapel Wakefield

Celebrating The Abolitionists, Ann Hurst, Elizabeth Dawson & Sarah Parker Remond exhibition at Chantry Chapel Wakefield. Credit: Wakefield Council.

Sarah Cobham, CEO of Dream Time Creative said:

“We are absolutely delighted to be the overall winners this year. To be recognised at such a high level is invaluable to the ongoing work and vision of Dream Time Creative and The Forgotten Women of Wakefield project as it continues to be challenging to raise funds, and awareness of the incredible legacies of women from our past. I hope this award acts as an inspiration to other groups across the nation to start looking at the rich seam of female herstoy, and feel incredibly grateful for the opportunities this recognition of our hard work will bring.”

More about the winners

Dream Time Creative:
Winner of the Overall Award and the Gathering and Preserving Category

Dream Time Creative is a place based creative organisation set up in 2018 by three women who wanted other women to feel empowered, enabled and emboldened in their creative and cultural voices. The aim of the organisation is to normalise women’s achievements being visible and to connect them to their community, their environment, their history and heritage and to address historic imbalances between the genders around recognising, owning and celebrating achievements.

The Forgotten Women of Wakefield strand of their work redressed the imbalance in blue plaques in the town (53 for men, only 4 for women) and researched and had installed a further 24 plaques so there are now 28 plaques for women. The research also went on to inform and create award winning films, community theatre productions, heritage walks, radio interviews, a book, several leaflets and 100’s of women upskilled in research skills which keeps the act and art of gathering and preserving heritage alive.

The group works closely with the community, partnerships with Wakefield Library and Museum and commissions from SPARK education has led to Women highlighted by the Forgotten Women of Wakefield being embedded into, and across the Wakefield Primary School Curriculum. They also worked with Wakefield City of Sanctuary to create a multi-lingual version of their book on Wakefield history and have reached out and engaged with local women from global ethnic minorities and with mental issues.  Volunteers from their projects have gone on to create a new arts company, Empath, which is proactive in enabling the QUEER artists voice within Wakefield through theatre and theatre writing that specialises in unearthing hidden queer history through their own research.

Sarah Cobham of Dream Time Creative says:

“Participants and volunteers tell us consistently, through our feedback forms, that their involvement in our courses changes their lives for the better. They cite particularly the sense of community, shared interests, peer support, creative opportunity and link to place which has a powerful and positive impact on their sense of wellbeing. We ‘hold’ space for women to find their voices, develop their passions, network them into existing cultural, creative and heritage groups and provide a platform for their achievements to be seen. When we launched the Forgotten Women of Wakefield project on 7th March 2018, on International Women’s Day, the day itself was not marked or celebrated in any way within the city of Wakefield. We made it our priority to raise awareness of this and now, after only 5 years, the public are spoilt for choice with multiple agencies and organisations prioritising making women and their achievements visible from both the past, and the present.”

Glenside Hospital Museum, Bristol:
Winner of the Wellbeing Category

Glenside Hospital Museum (GHM) is an Accredited Museum and Charitable Incorporated Organisation, based in the 1881 chapel of Bristol’s purpose-built hospital for the mentally ill (1861-1994). The chapel itself is part of the collections, with its stained-glass windows, altar piece and organ all reflecting the concept of healing. The Museum was founded by the hospital’s consultant psychiatrist Donal Early when the hospital closed in 1993. It is developed and delivered by a community of volunteers with a wide range of skills. The archive comprises three collections, all relating to local hospital stories: Bristol’s purpose-built psychiatric institution, its days as the military orthopaedic Beaufort War Hospital (1915-1919) and the Stoke Park Colonies for people with Learning Disabilities (1909-2000).

The Museum engages a wide audience in a difficult history and provides people with experience of mental illness or learning disabilities a place that focuses on history that includes them. Mental health is something everyone has and GHM provides a safe place in which people can unpack their attitudes towards mental health and hospital care, while examining how to maintain their own wellbeing.

GHM is a base for wellbeing activities and community events, its outreach work engages new audiences including care homes, community centres, young people, through educational workshops, and pop-up-exhibitions to another 2000 a year. Its ‘pop-up-exhibitions’ have travelled to Ireland and Belgium, hosted by venues including Bristol Cathedral, Highclere Castle, Royal College of Nursing, drawing classes, on line exhibition and Learning Disability exhibition.

Recent projects have supported people with learning disabilities to engage in the collections. GHM has developed a programme of events under the banner of ‘poW!: Protect Our Wellbeing’ which  will engage more people in conversations about wellbeing at the Museum and online. ‘poW!’ is designed to extend the museum.

Remembering the Past, North Tyneside:
Winner of the Community Engagement Award

Remembering The Past (RTP) is a volunteer-led charity that collects, manages, and shares a digital collection of oral histories which reflects every aspect of local life in North Tyneside since the turn of the twentieth century. It began collecting memories in 1997 and the collection is one of the longest running and diverse community history archives in the country. The archive contains over 350 oral history sound files, over 800 text-based memories and approximately 1000 digital images from people and communities often overlooked by the writers of history. These stories range from the launch of the Esso Northumbria super-tanker from the Swan Hunter shipyard in Wallsend, to memories of carrying the Burradon Colliery banner to the Bedlington Miners Picnic. RTP are passionate about encouraging people to realise how important their own life experiences are and how they can add a vibrant context to bare facts. As well as building and managing the digital archive, the team holds regular talks and events exploring aspects of local history, inviting people to share their personal recollections about life in the North East.

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