Our names are Charlie and Alana and we are the Community Engagement Trainees at Palace House in Newmarket as part of the Suffolk Museums’ ‘Transforming People to Transform Museums’ programme, funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund ‘Skills for the Future’ initiative.
We arrived at Palace House at the start of Dubai Future Champions Week, which involves pupils from Newmarket Academy visiting many key aspects of the horse racing industry here in Newmarket. We were set the task of guiding the school children to their activities around the museum site. We were certainly thrown in the at deep end that first week! It was wonderful seeing young people excited about the local heritage; and meeting the horses is always a popular activity.
One of the first activities that we helped to organise, and run was the October half term craft activity ‘Helping Hands’. This involved having families from the community drawing around their hands and then decorating it any way they wanted. These were then attached to our model horse Fred look’s great covered in all the amazing artwork, and stands proudly on display in the King’s Yard.
During our first month here at Palace House we were also given the opportunity to take part in the creation of an exhibition about the late horse racing pundit John McCririck. This was a privilege to be a part of as we were given the chance to work on it from the very beginning right up to the opening of the exhibition. It was an honour to be a part of a project surrounding someone who is so well recognised within the racing community, and beyond. It was so interesting to put this display together, as clothes and accessories are such personal items, they give a real sense of the person, and really connect someone to their story.
Our Christmas activities include ‘Tree-Mendous Textiles, a craft activity allowing visitors to make a Christmas tree mobile. We have also put together a nutcracker trail, for visitors to search the site using clues to look for our six nutcrackers. The museum currently hosts the George IV: Royalty, Racing and Reputation exhibition, and we are working on family activities to supplement that exhibition, including crown making and recreating royal portraits.
We really look forward to seeing what 2020 has in store, we’re sure we’ll be busy whatever comes our way.
By Alana Edgeworth and Charlie Davis