The Trustees and Volunteers at the Waterworks Museum have every reason to be proud of the ‘Noel Meeke Heritage Water Park’, not least because they know the time and effort (and blood, sweat and tears!) it took to deliver it, and they see the difference it makes to visitors every time the Museum opens its doors to the public.
It was very gratifying, therefore, that this was publicly recognised on 15 September 2016. Museum Chairman Richard Curtis, John Depledge and Ashton Cox attended the Birmingham Hippodrome to represent the Heritage Water Park Team, which was announced WINNER of the inaugural West Midlands Volunteer Awards 2016 (Project Award).
In announcing the award, the judges referred to the enormous efforts to the volunteers involved which made this project stand out. Built by 20 volunteers over 2-years, giving 2,300 hours of effort, with only the heavy civil engineering work outsourced, the Heritage Water Park has enriched the experience for all visitors to the Museum, not just the children for whom it was specifically designed. It also brought into constructive use an area of derelict overgrown land and found new life for artefacts in back store to create hands-on interactive life size exhibits in a safe outdoor display area.
Opened only in July 2015, the Heritage Water Park contributed hugely to a record number of visitors in 2015 and, importantly, many more family and other groups with children visiting the Waterworks Museum. Within six months the proportion of children rose from 14% to 22% of all visitors, which is precisely the outcome that Noel Meeke (Director and Emeritus Chairman) had hoped for when he first had the inspiration for the Heritage Water Park in 2007.
The ‘Project Award’ was one of eight awards made at the celebration evening in Birmingham, with other awards for ‘Above and Beyond’, ‘Spreading the Word’ and ‘Working Together’, and special awards for ‘Audiences’, ‘Collections’, ‘Resilience’ and ‘Young People’, with an overall ‘Excellence’ award.