Bannockburn volunteers recognised
20 Nov 2016
Our dedicated volunteers here at the Battle of Bannockburn Visitor Centre have been honoured with the National Trust for Scotland Volunteer Team of the Year award 2016!
The award was presented by National Trust for Scotland chief executive Simon Skinner at a special event at the Georgian House, Edinburgh in October.
When the new Visitor Centre first opened in 2014, we had a just a handful of volunteers offering informal object handling sessions. These sessions were incredibly popular and soon the volunteers were creating memorable experiences that were in very high demand from visitors. Fast forward two years and our dynamic team of Learning Assistants has grown to a team of 25 regular volunteers who consistently give up their days off, weekends, and school holidays to assist with the delivery of school visits, offer guided tours to engage visitors with the historical landscape, and run the interactive Learning Room.
While our 3D exhibition provides a digital experience of medieval warfare, the volunteers provide visitors of all ages and abilities with the unique opportunity to try out replica weapons and armour. With no artefacts from the battle, we have a collection of replica weapons and armour for handling. The Learning Assistant volunteers enable us to make this collection accessible to audiences on a much greater scale. Whether they are dressing visitors head to toe in chain mail, or interpreting the landscape of the Scottish encampments on a guided tour, the volunteers provide a unique opportunity for visitors to get hands on with history, and in doing so provide a first-class visitor experience which just would not be possible without them.
The impact of volunteer contribution on the wider Bannockburn community is also significant. Our Learning Assistants have developed a strong rapport with the local community resulting in many families repeatedly returning solely to enjoy the Learning Room (separate to the paid entry exhibition), which in turn has created a cultural focus for locals. The Learning Assistants also enhance visitor wellbeing. Not only do they find considerate and creative ways to engage each and every person who enters the Learning Room – regardless of age, ability, and nationality - they have provided sensory sessions for groups such as the Scottish War Blinded and provide sessions for youth clubs and groups with additional support needs across Scotland.
With a very small staff base running the learning programme at Bannockburn, the opportunities for learning have truly benefitted from the remarkable input from such a dedicated, enthusiastic, and imaginative team of volunteers. They are quite clearly a ‘team’, which is delightful to see; always supporting one another to the benefit of each and every volunteers’ personal development, and the development of the Learning Team. It is their lively personalities and enthusiasm for medieval Scottish history, though, which really make our Learning volunteers such an asset to the centre and the National Trust for Scotland as a whole.
Well done team!