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Plas Mawr
23 Sep 2019

The dedicated team of volunteers, who are the heart and soul of the Elizabethan House of Plas Mawr, situated within the walled town of Conwy, win the prestigious Marsh Awards for Wales as a region in a hard fought competition.

Marsh Volunteers for Museum Learning Award

These awards are run in partnership with the British Museum and recognise the best and most innovative ways in which volunteers work within local and national museums and galleries to engage the public with collections and exhibitions.

The awards recognise 12 regional winners and celebrate projects which have taken place in the previous year.

The national award is presented to the region in which the judges feel that the winner has made an outstanding difference to the way in which their museum engages with the public and introduced a unique dimension to this approach.

Plas Mawr Elizabethan Mansion House Wales – Volunteer group

The volunteers at Plas Mawr are a unique and valuable addition to the House. Their colourful, inspirational and knowledgeable presence make a considerable difference to both the visitor experience and the educational offer for schools.

Over the last 20 years our volunteers have grown from strength to strength. Some of the volunteers actually having been at the house for that length of time!

When the volunteers started out at Plas Mawr it was for the role of room stewards, now they are colourful characters who offer the visitor Tudor dancing, music lessons, march-pane making, whilst in their break times they create beautiful and historically accurate costumes and embroider vibrant Tudor designs onto dressing cloths for the house.

The cohort of 30 plus volunteers have created a vibrant community of friends in the house, each helping one another to develop new skills whilst making new friends and enhancing their own health and well-being.

The volunteers have developed a new Tudor characters for themselves — these are in-depth characters in keeping with running the household. Visitors are able meet members of the household and talk to them about their lives in the Tudor house, from the maid servants to the cook, to visiting dignitaries to the Wynn household. Activities include Tudor dancing and music, cookery and the ever popular beer making.

In addition to all this, the volunteers have taken training courses in Tudor dress making and natural dyeing and have created over 50 historically accurate and beautiful costumes for both themselves, the staff and for adult and children visitors to try on.

Recently and excitingly, when word of their fabulous achievements got out, one volunteer gained employment as a freelance historical costume maker.

The volunteers make the visitor experience more creative, exciting, vibrant and memorable.

Without them, their creativity, positive energy and drive, and of course willingness to become a character from the past, Plas Mawr would be a pretty, historical house, just that. The volunteers are the life and soul of the house.

Their knowledge is considerable and they are constantly come up with new and exciting ways to make the visitor experience more valuable.

The costumes have been a triumph, and the sewing workshops have become a social event for the volunteers — interjected with dance practice. The dance group have even been ‘on tour’ with requests to visit community centre functions to show off their skills and encourage participation.

The volunteers take the beautiful and significant house of Plas Mawr to new and exciting heights each year…. they are the heart of Plas Mawr and we at Cadw honour their fantastic and well deserved award.

Sheena Williams, volunteer manager at Plas Mawr said:

"We are thrilled here in the house. The volunteers really do deserve the recognition. They are part of the rich history of the house and their creativity knows no bounds. A richly deserved honour for their commitment to Plas Mawr".

The volunteers collected their award in a prestigious ceremony held in the British Museum in London on the 23 September 2019.