STUDENT photographer Emily Meritt has been rewarded for her part in allowing millions to peer into the North East’s past.
Emily, 22, who is studying commercial photography at Newcastle College, has been volunteering for a year at Tyne Wear Museums and Archives (TWAM).
She has been combing the archives for historic images which she then digitises and places online so they can be seen by the public.
“As a direct result of her work, we have engaged upwards of five million people online and her work has shaped how we will share collections online in the future,” said a TWAM spokesman.
Emily’s efforts have been recognised in the North East Museum Volunteer Awards 2012.
She is the first recipient of the ‘contribution from a young volunteer‘ award.
Judges said: “Emily has spent many hours in Newcastle’s Discovery Museum, supporting improved access to collections. She consistently delivers work to a very high standard and despite having a hectic time schedule away from the museum always manages to deliver results.”
Emily’s online images include a collection of ‘mug shot’ police photographs found in a junk shop which generated tens of thousands of hits when they appeared in August.
“It’s fantastic to have the work I’ve been doing at TWAM recognised. It is moving historic photography into the digital age,” said Emily, from Gosforth in Newcastle.
“It is amazing what is in the archives, there is a wealth of material.
“My two loves are photography and history, and I find it hard to stay out of the museum.
“I don’t think people realise how much is there.”
Lucy Cooke, TWAM volunteer programmes co-ordinator, said: “Volunteers make a vital contribution to museums in the North East. They donate their enthusiasm, hard work and time.
“More than 2,000 contribute 80,000 hours in the North East every year. It’s a staggering contribution.” Other award winners were:
For outstanding contribution from a young volunteer under 25: Marc Reed from Beamish Museum.
Judges said: “He has volunteered for the past year every Saturday and during school holidays. During this time, he has developed from being a quiet person to a confident young man.”
Outstanding Achievement by A Volunteer Run Museum: Bailiffgate Museum in Alnwick.
Judges said: “This museum is going from strength to strength.”
Contribution to the Visitor Experience Award: Maddie Winder from Great North Museum: Hancock. “She has been supporting the museum’s front of house team for over three years and even though she is now at university in York, comes back every holiday to volunteer.”
The same award went to Ian Bean from Beamish Museum. Judges said: “He has been volunteering with the museum since the very beginning and has made a huge contribution over the years as the museum has developed. He has many different roles.”
Contribution by Paid Staff to Supporting Volunteers Award: Hannah James from Beamish and Jennie Lambert of Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens
Contribution to Collections Care: Lucy Passman from Preston Hall Museum & Gardens , Stockton, and Joan Milne and Fiona Southern from Discovery Museum, Newcastle.
Volunteer Team Award: The Tuesday Cleaning Group from Locomotion (NRM Shildon) and the Art Activities Team from the Laing Art Gallery in Newcastle.