Marsh Award for Digital Volunteer of the Year with the Churches Conservation Trust

The Award recognises someone who has made a particularly valuable contribution to the Churches Conservation Trust in a digital capacity, using digital tools in an innovative and effective way in order to promote the Churches Conservation Trust and its churches.

Nominations for the Award are submitted to the Churches Conservation Trust via their website and are judged in partnership with representatives of the MCT.

The All Star Volunteers – St Augustine, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire 2023

The All Star Volunteers launched their project to welcome more visitors to Cambridge’s Painted Church in Autumn 2021. As a small team, they did not have the resources to open the church every day and so decided to organise events that would appeal to the widest possible audience.​ Originally, the group had no website, social media or mailing list and so the volunteers advertised through posters and word of mouth. Despite this, over fifty music lovers came to their first concert, and the volunteers realised how much more they could achieve if they had a presence on social media. And so, inspired by this initial success the volunteers quickly developed a website and set up accounts across social media. Since then, their audience numbers have grown, including many people who had never visited the church before. The volunteers have welcomed thousands of people to a range of events and activities, ultimately raising thousands of pounds towards much need improvements to the church.

Previous Winners

Mackman - St Peter's, Sudbury

Mackman are a local marketing agency in Sudbury who have provided their services free of charge to carry out a complete rebrand for St Peter’s and provide a new website for the church. Director, Paul Mackman, also gives his personal time to a new Local Advisory Group, bringing his skills and expertise to help St Peter’s to evolve into a vibrant community cultural venue for all. The new branding, website and digital activity via social media has helped St Peter’s to encourage new and younger visitors, audiences and volunteers that would traditionally be less inclined to come forward to volunteer. The digital support provided by Mackman has played a vital role in raising local, regional and national awareness of the regeneration project at St Peter’s, as well as the work of the CCT. Mackman are a shining example of how local businesses can be involved in supporting their own local CCT church. They have demonstrated the undeniable value of the business community working together with the CCT and collaborating with local organisations to save heritage. 

Maria Watson

Originally designed as a leaflet, Maria wrote a trail linking four Hampshire churches to the gin industry of the area. The trail featured information gleaned from local volunteers about each church and its connection to the local gin history. In light of the coronavirus restrictions, Maria turned the leaflet into a virtual tour which was promoted on the CCT website and social media. Maria wrote the script and produced the video to a professional standard, while raising important funds for the churches and the CCT.

Stuart McLaren and James Wilding

Stuart McLaren – St Augustine, Norwich

Stuart has volunteers almost single-handedly at St Augustine’s for around 20 years and has a real in depth knowledge of the church and its history. Harnessing the power of social media, Stuart has created a Facebook page for the church with the aim of encouraging local residents to learn about their local historic church and, more importantly, get involved. In a bid to share information about the church more widely and reach new audiences, Stuart helped support the opening of St Augustine’s for Heritage Open Days last year, and even appeared on BBC Radio Norfolk’s Treasure Quest Show to talk about the church and its community both past and present.

James Wilding – Wiltshire Area Volunteer

James has produced three online audio guides for churches in Wiltshire (Alton Priors, Leigh Delamare and Old Dilton) making a free virtual tour of the building accessible to anyone. He has also set up several geocaches and Google Maps to signpost visitors to other nearby CCT Churches.

Jessica Clarke

The CCT has been given the opportunity to promote its historic churches on the Google Arts and Culture platform. In order to take full advantage of this opportunity, they needed volunteer support to research, organise and compile multiple digital ‘stories’ and exhibits and this is where Jessica came in. Her support has enabled the CCT to not only complete the project, but also to get the data into the right format for Google to accept it. She has also developed user guides for other volunteers to follow in the future and has overcome all technical issues with diligence and determination. Without Jessica, the project would not have been such a success.