Lockerbie teenager Rose Byers triumphs at British Museum’s volunteer awards

A teenager from Lockerbie has won the overall prize in a prestigious UK-wide award scheme for museum volunteers. 

Rose Byers, who volunteers at the Robert Burns Ellisland Trust,  was first out of 15 finalists in the awards run by the  The British Museum and the Marsh Christian Trust celebrating the work and achievements of museum volunteers across the UK.

Rose, who is also an award-winning singer, is youth ambassador for Ellisland Farm near Dumfries which was built to Robert Burns’s design and was his first marital home with Jean Armour.

Rose said: “I am so happy to have won this award. It is a huge honour and a lovely surprise! I really am very keen to get other young people interested in Ellisland, which is such an atmospheric place. It’s so special to perform in the same spot where Robert Burns wrote his world-famous songs and tunes.”
Joan McAlpine, chair of the Robert Burns Ellisland Trust, said: “Everyone at Ellisland is so proud of Rose winning this very well deserved award. Rose runs events at Ellisland, including our fundraising youth concert and has helped promote the site through her wonderful online work during lockdown, most recently her beautiful recording of four love songs from Burns’s home at Ellisland which capture perfectly the romance of the site.  We are so lucky to have this talented young woman as part of our Ellisland family .”

The British Museum and the Marsh Christian Trust have been working in partnership for the 12th year of the ‘Volunteers for Museum Learning’ award which recognises the hugely important contribution that volunteers make to help museums engage with their visitors.

The ‘Volunteers for Museum Learning’ award forms part of a programme of awards presented by the Marsh Christian Trust in the fields of science, ecology, conservation, heritage, literature and volunteering. Each one of these awards recognises individuals and organisations who devote their lives to improving the world today and the world in the future. The Marsh Awards programme is managed in association with key partners including the Zoological Society of London, English Heritage, Barnardo’s, the Refugee Council and the British Museum.

The aim of the ‘Volunteers for Museum Learning’ award is to recognise those volunteers who engage directly with museum visitors in any capacity. This could involve leading a school group, staffing an information desk, helping with family activities, running a guided tour or any number of other ways in which volunteers provide such excellent support to museum visitors.

There were a large number of applications from across the UK, some from groups of volunteers and some from individuals. The judges consisted of staff from the Marsh Trust, staff and volunteers from the British Museum and a representative from last year’s winners, Temple Newsam, Leeds.  The British Museum is delighted to host the awards each year, celebrating the valuable contribution volunteers make to the running of the Museum and its enjoyment by the public.

Sir Richard Lambert, Chairman of the Trustees at the British Museum said “Museums across the UK rely on the contribution of volunteers to ensure their collections reach and inspire as many people as possible. The efforts of volunteers up and down the country in 2019 are an inspiration as we all continue to navigate the challenges presented to us all in 2020. The Marsh Volunteer Awards recognise the commitment and enthusiasm of volunteers in museums and we are very grateful to the Marsh Christian Trust for acknowledging this work.”

The winners will each receive a cash prize of £500, donated by the Marsh Christian Trust. The one overall national winner who receives an additional £2,000.


The list of winners for the 2019 Volunteers for Museum Learning is:


Rose Byers at Ellisland Museum and Farm, Dumfries.

North East

Breaking Chains, North Shields and Slavery Project Group,

Old Low Light Heritage Centre, Tyne and Wear.

North West

Juan Cunliffe at The Lion Saltworks, Cheshire.


The Youth Collective at Leeds Art Gallery, Leeds.


The Walled Garden Team, Wollaton Hall and Deer Park, Nottingham.


Kate Shepherd at Plas Newydd (National Trust), Anglesey.

East of England 

Geoff Wicken at Watford Museum, Hertfordshire.

South West

Bill Read at Athelstan Museum, Wiltshire.

South East

Hollycombe Working Steam Museum Volunteers, Hollycombe Working Steam Museum, Hampshire.

London (Joint Winners)

The ‘We Were There’ team, Imperial War Museum, London.

Valence House Events Volunteers, Valence House, Dagenham.

Northern Ireland 

Catalyst Arts Team, Catalyst Arts, Belfast.

National Winners 

Rose Byers at Ellisland Museum and Farm, Dumfries.