Left: Host Ray Johnson, documentary film maker, actor and writer
Centre: Joe Welch, Pen Museum
Right: Sue Williamson, Director: Libraries and Birmingham Arts Council England
Image: Lee Allen Photography
Young People Award
On 6 September 2018 at the Birmingham Hippodrome, guests were treated to a fantastic evening of fun and entertainment for the West Midlands Volunteer Awards ceremony. These awards were established to highlight the crucial work and invaluable efforts made by volunteers to the museum sector. Congratulations to our volunteer Joe Welch who won the award in the ‘Young People’ category, the Judges felt that this nomination deserved to win as the suggestions they made have had a pivotal impact on the visitor experience. Their ideas have made a real difference and the winner has shown versatility and loyalty within this museum.
Joe joined us on a 100 hour placement scheme from Newman University and very quickly became enthused and engaged with the museum and its history. Being autistic, Joe picked the Pen Museum as an opportunity to engage with the general public and take ownership of tour delivery. He got so into it that in October 2017, after his placement had finished, he asked to stay on as a regular Visitor Engagement volunteer which we were thrilled about.
Firstly, Joe’s engagement with the public is exceptional. He consistently goes the extra mile with each and every visitor, giving them a personal, one to one experience which has resulted in the museum’s TripAdvisor score increasing and personal mentions for Joe standing out quite significantly. His tours and engagement are an ever evolving process, using extensive research, communication with other volunteers and hearing the stories of our visitors to craft his narrative.If this wasn’t enough, he has demonstrated a passion to learn; exceeding expectations and stepping up into other roles, including Duty Manager.
Joe’s journey from a university placement to being involved with the museum’s senior team really is an incredible one and is a testament to his passion, commitment and dedication to our museum and story.
The West Midlands Volunteer Awards are funded through Arts Council England. The Awards are part of Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust’s National Portfolio and Museum Development programmes.