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

The Award celebrates the achievements of a volunteer team or friends group who have carried out successful projects, events or activities together. The Award recognises those who look after their local church and engage with the public, whilst promoting the work of the Churches Conservation Trust.

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

Pictured: The Friends of Old Christ Church Waterloo

Volunteer Team – St George’s, Portland, Devon 2023

In 2022, the St George’s Church volunteer team held their first Flower Festival and Coronation Celebration event, where they partnered with Dorset Wildlife Trust and local botanists. This event helped to ensure that their volunteer-led churchyard maintenance project was as beneficial as possible to the biodiversity of the vast graveyard as it welcomes 20,000 visitors to St George’s each year. The team also held a very successful Summer Celebration and their second annual Light-up event at Christmas. They have provided guided tours of the church and churchyard. ​The volunteer team have also expanded their range of merchandise to optimise fundraising opportunities in the church and have successfully taken on the challenge of piloting a contactless payment machine.​ They have a remarkable wealth of skills and knowledge that they give generously to maintain the church and welcome visitors, showing them all the delights of St George’s.

Previous Winners

St Peter's Sandwich Volunteer Team and Curious Curators

St Peter’s Sandwich Volunteer Team 

Since the church re-opened in April 2021, this dedicated volunteer team have come together each with their own skills and specialisms, but all with a love for their town and the church. The church currently operates as a community ‘hub’, creating a welcoming space for locals and visitors alike, as well as those interested in the history and architecture of the church. The volunteers work together to cover a bookshop, donations, tower tours and welcoming visitors and are also supported by a wonderful gardening team. The church hosts a number of charitable activities, run by the volunteers, and without their support and enthusiasm it wouldn’t be able to operate as a community hub at the heart of the town’s activities. Since April, the volunteers have raised over £30,000 for the CCT and the church, a tremendous achievement in what has been a very difficult year.  

Curious Curators – 17Nineteen Project at Holy Trinity, Sunderland 

This team have been involved with the church since September 2020, researching stories from Holy Trinity and Sunderland and finding innovative ways to interpret them. This exceptional group of volunteers have supported, inspired and challenged one another to work harder, probe deeper and think wider about how the stories they have uncovered could inspire others. Working digitally and from all corners of the country, the volunteers have honed their research skills and networked with industry professionals to deliver superb work. They have collaborated under some of the strangest circumstances, most of them never meeting in person, some of them never having visited Sunderland. They have listened openly and honestly to one another, appreciating each other’s inputs and respecting differences of opinions.  

Volunteers at Holy Trinity Church in Privett

This is a strong, proactive team which has not allowed the coronavirus pandemic to hinder their efforts. Over the year, they have undertaken a huge project to clear the churchyard and restore it to its former glory, allowing self-led tours to take place as part of Heritage Open Days. They have organised and contributed to several online activities, including Holy Trinity’s first virtual Carol Service. The team are not perturbed by any challenges and work remarkable well with their community and the CCT to make the most of their local church. 

Friends of St Wilfrid's, Church Norton

Even though this little chapel can seat a maximum of 35 people, the Friends of St Wilfrid’s have a programme of events that encourage visitors old and new, to come and experience the building. The chapel is opened every day, cleaned with fresh flowers, and prepared for baptisms and blessings as they occur. In three years, the Friends have hosted ten theatre performances, and this year, welcomes the Shoreham Chamber Choir to perform. Welcoming over 18,400 visitors in the last year has generated over £300 to CCT funds, and is all done in a friendly and generous way which all can enjoy.

Friends of St Bartholomew's, Lower Basildon and Friends of Milton Mausoleum

Friends of St Bartholomew’s, Lower Basildon

This team of volunteers have been going from strength to strength. In 2018, they completed their clock restoration project for which they raised over £10,000. They were a great help in supporting the West Region’s Trustees Tour, hosting a volunteers celebration event for over 100 people at the church in May. Throughout 2018 the Friends hosted 14 events at the church, while keeping the churchyard beautifully maintained and writing a comprehensive plan to sustain the church in the future.

Friends of Milton Mausoleum

This team of volunteers were founded only three years ago to bring their historic building back into community use and have already raised over £10,000. They are a willing and determined team, and their efforts have recently been rewarded by the arrival of electricity in the building, thus enabling future events to be held all year round. The Friends have been chosen by the CCT as a good practice model and have given assistance to other volunteering teams.

Friends of St Mary's Old Church, West Bergholt

Friends of St Mary’s Old Church, West Bergholt

2017 has seen the launch of the roof repair project at the church, towards which the Friends have raised £10,000 in the short space of 6 months. They have worked together and engaged with the local community, raising money through a number of different events including concerts, table top sales, an application to the parish council and a bluebell walk event. They have demonstrated enthusiasm, commitment and team spirit to fundraise for the church and are putting together a Church Plan to continue its development in the future.

Holy Trinity Goodramgate Volunteers

This team of enthusiastic volunteers has ensured that Holy Trinity Goodramgate in York has been open seven days per week for more than five years. They have collectively given over 27,000 hours of their time and welcoming thousands of visitors.

The team take on a variety of roles and also lend their expertise and services to other projects and churches in the area.

Bristol St John’s Volunteers

The 19 strong volunteer team at Bristol St John’s have achieved remarkable things. The church has gone from being open one afternoon a week to being open an average of 5 days a week in 2015, with volunteers offering free guided tours of the church to all visitors. The team have also set up various sub-committees and groups to help with the day to day management of the building.

The Visitor Welcome Team also made fantastic efforts in encouraging visitors to complete 88 visitor surveys, providing essential feedback on the significance and public perception of the site. Between September 2014 and February 2015 volunteers contributed 647 hours to the church. In particular the CCT would like to acknowledge the efforts of Elizabeth Taylor, who has given 3 days a week for the past year to help turn Bristol St John’s into the visitor attraction it deserves to be.