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

The Award celebrates the achievements of young volunteers who strive to keep their local churches open and make them a relevant space for younger generations.

The Award is given to a young person under the age of 25 who has made an outstanding contribution to some aspect of the Churches Conservation Trust’s activities over the last 12 months at a local, regional or national level.

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

Pictured: 2013 Award winner, Gemma Edleston

James Giles 2020

James completed his Duke of Edinburgh award with at St John on the Wall, Bristol, acting as a Visitor Welcome Volunteer with the support of his mother, Nicola. James joined the team of regular volunteers in the opening of the church with visitors on weekends between October 2018 and May 2019, allowing hundreds of visitors to see this beautiful building.

Previous Winners

Roisin Ryan-Self

Roisin has been an event steward at St Peter’s in Sudbury and has recently taken on the role of Communications Officer. She has brought considerable experience from her day job at a marketing agency along with a fresh approach to how the church can promote itself on social media. Roisin’s efforts have helped to positively influence local perceptions of the church and she has struck the balance just right between encouraging new audiences while continuing to engage more traditional users. Largely thanks to her work, the church has been announced as a finalist for the Norfolk and Suffolk Tourism Awards in the Marketing Category.

Philip and Wouter

Philip – Bristol Volunteer

Philp devised a 350-mile, 6 day, 20 church tour, working closely with 40 volunteers to make the tour a reality. He provided in depth historical research into points of interest on the route and was very active on social media, providing advice and information to interested parties. Colin Shearer, the cyclist who took on the tour, was able to raise almost £3,000 for the CCT. Philip has gone on to join the Trust’s Volunteering advisory group, sharing research on medieval pilgrim routes, a theme which will be developed further in the run up to the CCT’s 50th Anniversary celebrations.

Wouter – National Office, London

Wouter came to the UK to work with the CCT and spent six months as a full-time volunteer, working to support the CCT through a busy time at a number of major events. He was the main coordinator of the international conference at Quay Place in Ipswich, bringing 100 professionals from 12 countries together. He managed the technology across 5 rooms simultaneously. He worked many weekends and evenings, hand making canapes for guests at the Annual Lecture and helping to deliver the National Volunteering Day in 2017. He supported many staff across the organisation and has now found employment in historic building conservation in London.

Alice and Charlotte

Alice and Charlotte have volunteered at St John on the Wall in Bristol for the past year, using their extensive skills and experience in working with hard to reach communities and individuals with learning difficulties to run weekly drawing groups at the church. The free drop-in sessions have encouraged a broad range of people to explore and connect with the church, using the arts to revitalise and bring community back into the church.

The pair also led the group in organising the successful ‘Within the Wall’ exhibition in September 2015, where over 1,000 visitors got the chance to see the culmination of a year’s work by the group. In the coming year, they are planning to expand the sessions by running them at other churches in the area linked to the Churches Conservation Trust.



William volunteered with the CCT over the school summer holidays in 2015 to produce a walking trail of the cluster of churches in South Oxfordshire: St Peter’s in Wallingford, St Mary’s in Newnham Murren and St John the Baptist in Mongewell.

William did an outstanding job of collecting all the information required for this task including: walking route information, information about the churches and photographs. He then consolidated all this information and edited it to a very high standard and also helped with the layout of the leaflet. William’s commitment to this project was impressive and aims to drive many more visitors to the church in due course.


Jessica has visited 62 different churches to study Commonwealth War graves. She has built a database at the Churches Conservation Trust to record information about these important memorials and has shown great dedication and commitment to the work she has carried out. Jessica’s contributions through her findings and developments have been invaluable to the Churches Conservation Trust.


Gemma has volunteered with the Churches Conservation Trust through a variety of roles. She has been heavily involved with the Archway project, helping to ensure its successful completion. The Archway project aims to develop local voluntary support, increase visitor numbers and improve community use in fourteen rural churches in Lincolnshire through the arts.

Gemma is part of the CCT’s National Volunteer Action Group. She has also worked hard to promote the events held by the CCT. She was an essential part of the team which delivered two large skills events at Skildbrooke Church as well as an event at South Somercotes.

Gemma has used her studies of Historic Buildings for the benefit of the CCT. She completed a research project on the First World War grave at Goltho, which was on display during the West Lindsey Open Churches Festival, attracting positive comments from the visitors. Gemma is enthusiastic, good with visitors and popular with the other volunteers. She brings a professional ‘can-do’ attitude to her role and her work with visitors and within the community is outstanding.