The Coffin Works is celebrating being named one of three finalists in the Best Rescue, Recording or Interpretation of a Historic Place category at this year’s prestigious Historic England Angel Awards 2017
The Relaxed@Newman Bros factory tour – specifically designed for people on the autistic spectrum by volunteers Adam Sutcliffe-Brown and Suzanne Carter has connected the Coffin Works museum with a sector it had failed to reach.
Adam, who is on the spectrum, has introduced autism-friendly resources such as pre-visit videos and sensory toys and advised staff on how to modify tours so they are welcoming for those with autism and their families.
Adam has also organised staff training to change perceptions of autism and help staff engage more confidently with all visitors. This experience has led Adam to give presentations at conferences and take other steps to encourage the wider heritage sector to improve accessibility to all.
“Inclusion is a huge priority for us. We understand that enjoyment of the museum is not just about physical access, but it’s also about intellectual access,” said Sarah Hayes, manager of the Newman Brothers Museum at the Coffin Works in Birmingham.
“We’re so excited to have been shortlisted for a Historic England Angel Award, as this is recognition of what we do on a national level. But more than that, this is a huge acknowledgement of what our volunteers can do when they work together and have a vision.
“Adam and Suzanne have worked so hard over the last 18 months to develop the Relaxed@Newmans autism-friendly tour, and the public can now play a part in helping us to win the People’s Choice Award. All you have to do is click on the link here and vote for our project, and hopefully, our small museum in Birmingham will be recognised on a national level.”
Andrew Lloyd Webber said: ‘I’m delighted to champion the people who protect the precious buildings and places around us. Everyone who has been shortlisted for a Historic England Angel Award has made a significant difference to our landscape and built environment. Congratulations to all of them! This year I am especially pleased that we are crowning an overall UK winner for the first time, showcasing the crucial work that is being done across the country by local heritage heroes.’
Duncan Wilson, Chief Executive of Historic England said: “I am always impressed by the tireless commitment shown by our Angel Award nominees working together to care for our shared heritage. The variety of this year’s shortlists proves there are so many different ways to engage with our rich legacy of historic buildings and places and as ever, the judging panel will have their work cut out to choose the winners. It is essential that we champion the volunteers and heritage professionals whose work ensures we can continue to enjoy England’s wonderful historic sites for generations to come.”
Voting is now open. Cast your vote at HistoricEngland.org.uk/AngelAwards. Voting closes 5 November 2017.