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St Mary's Church Discover Heritage Awards

St Mary's Church commended in the Discover Heritage Awards

The Churches Conservation Trust has been commended in the Association for Heritage Interpretation 2015 Discover Heritage Awards - for excellence in cultural and natural heritage interpretation in Britain and Ireland. The Visitor Welcome project at St Mary's, St Mary's street, Shrewsbury has been commended in the Museums and Historic Properties/Sites category. St Mary's is a magnificent medieval building. Therefore, the design philosophy for the interpretation was not to detract from the building but to sit lightly using existing furnishings, but with flexibility for quirkiness and a fun element to engage the public.

On entering the building visitors encounter a friendly volunteer who will provide information if wished. As the visitors continue to walk through the nave, choir and chancel a background soundscape of voices change from Old English, to Norman French and finally to Latin, reflecting the sounds of different periods. The major features, such as the stained glass have positioned information easels with information on removable paddles so that the visitor can take the interpretation to the feature.

Open bibles are placed to relate to the major milestones of life experienced, celebrated, and commemorated such as birth, marriage and death. The bibles make reference to the medieval monuments and communal life shared by past congregations. The use of this type of visual cue enables the visitor to identify with the past lived experience and shared.

The children's activities are located in the south transept, and are incorporated into existing furniture. The dressing up clothes in an open cupboard and the activity packs in an open chest.

AHI received a record number 49 entries from across the whole of the UK and Ireland in the re-launch year of its prestigious awards, now being held biennially. AHI Discover Heritage Awards are the only UK and Irish awards to recognise all types of heritage interpretation. Projects of all shapes, sizes and budgets were entered from England, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The quality of interpretation was consistently high, which reflects the strength of heritage interpretation across the UK and Ireland. Shortlisted and commended sites were chosen by a team of interpretation experts from around the UK and Ireland.

Dawn Lancaster of The Churches Conservation Trust, "this is a fantastic accolade for the CCT".

Bill Bevan, AHI Vice-Chair said "The number and quality of entrants into the AHI 2015 Discover Heritage Awards made short-listing an exceptionally tough process. The shortlist represents some of the best recent heritage interpretation projects in Britain and Ireland. We are delighted that the shortlist ranges from small to large projects. It is an international badge of excellence whether a site wins, or is shortlisted or commended in one of the categories."

The AHI Discover Heritage Awards are the only UK and Irish awards to recognise excellence in all types and sizes of heritage interpretation whether held in museums, historic buildings, visitor centres or any type of outdoor location. Any form of media is suitable including exhibition, print, digital, art or live. An eligible project can be small or large. Whether it is a new leaflet or a million-pound visitor centre (or anything in between), the awards celebrate projects that best meet their interpretive aims and successfully communicate their key messages to their audiences.