Local volunteers at the Harlow Museum & Walled Gardens have won an award for their work maintaining, caring and promoting the famous John Collins Cycle collection.
Volunteers Andy Bray and Melvyn Seymour were presented with the South East Marsh Award for Museum Learning on Monday 14 November at the British Museum and also received a cash prize of £250, which was donated by the Marsh Charitable Trust. They were joined by the rest of the museum team to celebrate their achievement.
The prestigious award received by the volunteers is handed out through a partnership with the British Museum. It is awarded in recognition of the best and most innovative ways in which volunteers work within local and national museums and galleries to engage the public with collections and exhibitions.
The museum is the home of the historically significant collection of bicycles, which was caringly established by John Collins. The Collins collection, 68 bicycles, 34 of which are currently on display, highlights the evolution of cycles, from the earliest days of cycle design to modern models, as well as other cycle related memorabilia. Cycling has been part of Harlow’s DNA with cycle tracks being included in the very first designs of the New Town.
Andy and Melvyn look after the collection, which includes restoring the bikes and carrying out a gentle cleaning regime. They also enthusiastically tell the story of the bikes to visitors using a variety of creative ways to educate people on the evolution of cycles. Andy and Melvyn’s experience also includes knowing John Collins and buying their first bikes from his shop and working in his workshop.
Both Andy and Melvyn are a credit to the museum and the council is very proud of their work as volunteers. The whole museum team hold them in great affection, they bring energy, humour, and are committed to providing a great service.
Councillor Joel Charles, Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Business and Community Resilience, said:
“Volunteers like Andy and Melvyn are important ambassadors for our town. They are helping generations of Harlow residents to learn more about our town’s history at the museum. I would like to congratulate Andy and Melvyn for winning their British Museum backed award in recognition of the role they play as part of the team focused on the ongoing curation of the John Collins cycle collection. Their work demonstrates the vital contribution volunteers make to enhancing the delivery of community services in our town.”
Talking about the awards, Muriel Gray, Deputy Chair of the Trustees at the British Museum, said:
“Museums across the UK are grateful for the contribution of volunteers to ensure they reach and inspire as many people as possible. Volunteers are also an important part of the British Museum community. The efforts of volunteers up and down the country in 2021 are an inspiration as they gave their time throughout a challenging period, helping museums and heritage sites with their recovery from the impacts of the pandemic. These awards recognise the commitment and enthusiasm of volunteers in museums and we are very grateful to the Marsh Charitable Trust for acknowledging this work.”