planning work with a pot of felt tip pens in the front


Looking for different projects to showcase here has been interesting and made me smile as I’ve gone back and looked at what’s been achieved over the years. After working full time for Chiltern Open Air Museum and Belton House (National Trust) for many years I have chosen a few highlights and projects that I have completed for them.

I have added some new projects that I’ve been involved in during 2020 as well.

Freelance Project Manager, London Museum of Water and Steam

Using the time during lockdown, the London Museum of Water and Steam took the opporunity to work with staff and experienced volunteers to consult and review the museum’s fire safety and safety management systems, and undertake some TLC on the Waterworks Railway. Whilst visitors might not notice any difference, work has been on-going to update and care for the Museum in a way that ensures their safety.

Working with this team between October and December, I led on ensuring that the Museum’s annual inspections and compliance work was undertaken, including the electricians to undertake the fixed wire testing and Safe I.S. to undertake the fire alarm servicing. Alongside this I reviewed and revised some of the reporting and recording paperwork, to ensure consistancy and ease of use for staff and volunteers to access the required information.

A group of experienced and skilled volunteers came together to support this work, whether looking at long term conservation and maintenance plans for the stationary engines and the steam boilers after the museum they have been inactive due to lockdown closures or the work on the Waterworks Railway and it’s maintenance and safety management system.

After lots of administration and diary co-ordination, the lead Engine Driver and I welcomed our contractors Alan Keef Ltd. onto the site for two days of work in December, as they repaired sections of the track, levelled and straightened the area at the platform for both safety and to create an even and more accessible entrance for visitors from the platform onto the passenger carriage. There’s even a new addition of a 1920s headshunt to finish the track as it should.

With a conservation plan in place for the skip trucks (see picture below), maintenance plans and a reviewed Safety Management System, when it’s safe to re-open for volunteers and visitors, the works will be completed and the Museum and Waterworks Railway will be operational once more.

Mentoring Champion, Group for Education in Museums

I have so enjoyed co-ordinating and developing the One to One Mentoring Programme for GEM since April 2020. The mentors who volunteer their time and the mentees have brought such differing skills, experience and passion for the sector and it’s an honour to be able to support and work with them all.

From recruiting mentors, developing training and resources to support them and matching each mentee to a mentor, there is so much involved with a mentoring programme.

One of the benefits of the changing digital world that we live in has meant both being able to match mentors and mentees with their skills and development needs in mind, without geographical location being a limiting factor for face-to-face meet ups, as well as the opportunity to connect with other mentoring programmes for museum educators in the US to share our learnings and work.

Full details of the One to One Programme is available at: One to One Mentoring Programme – GEM

Archaeology, service learning and the Heritage Lottery Fund

newspaper article from Grantham Journal
Coverage of the project in Grantham Journal, 2015

This HLF Young Roots project in 2015 has to be one of my favourite ever projects. 17 young people, world-class archaeologists, Natural England advisors, a local storyteller & actor, a local sculptor and a First World War training camp.

Using the principle of service learning, I set up a project where the young people were the lead volunteers. Working alongside the archaeologists they learnt the skills and developed the research questions to find out more about this FWW camp.

They also worked with a storyteller and artist to create a remembrance walk (seen in the link below) and local sculptor to create a sculpture to remember the men and women at the camp.

Teachers’ Resource Packs

Written after consultation with local head teachers and supported by the East Midlands Museums Service, these resources are designed to give local teachers information and stories about local history with cross curricula links. Both documents are (c)National Trust/Belton House and are available free of charge for use by schools and other educational establishments.

Young volunteers and family learning

One of the most significant conversations I had in my career was with a 12 year old at Chiltern Museum. He had been part of the holiday club since he was 5, he was too young to volunteer and so he asked me, “what do I do next?” – the solution start a young volunteers club.

From helping to re-erect historic buildings to researching and developing family back packs at the museum.

Audio tour

Working on a shoe string and supported by volunteer, Emma Parsons, we wrote, recorded and edited an audio tour back in 2009 which won a national competition

(c) Melissa Kate Maynard

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