A group of young volunteers who researched and rediscovered a fascinating series of untold Leeds stories has brought home a top national award.
Leeds City Museum’s Preservative Party, a team of history-lovers all aged 14-24, were named joint winners of the Volunteers of the Year at the prestigious Museums + Heritage Awards in London.
The group submitted their entry for the awards after planning and creating Overlooked, a poignant exhibition at the museum exploring the lives and legacies of Leeds people whose stories have been untold or underrepresented.
Working together, the group scoured national archives and the museum’s collection as well as forging new links with community groups as they uncovered lesser-known facts, events and characters which helped shape modern day Leeds.
Among the individuals represented is David Oluwale, who came to Leeds from Nigeria in the 1940s and was sadly targeted because of his mental health, homelessness and race.
He drowned in the River Aire on April 18, 1969 after suffering years of harassment. Overlooked featured a series of documents and objects shining new light on David’s life and the impact his death had on the city, including a replica of the blue plaque erected in his memory.
Jordan Keighley, Leeds City Museum’s youth engagement curator, said: “We are so immensely proud of the Preservative Party and everything they have accomplished on their way to winning this prestigious and thoroughly-deserved award.
“This extraordinary group of young people truly were the driving force behind Overlooked, and it was only because of their passion, enthusiasm and determination to bring these stories into the spotlight that the exhibition came about.
“Bringing young people’s voices into museum exhibitions like this can give us an entirely fresh perspective on history and an opportunity to ask important, challenging questions which will shape the experiences of museum-goers both present and future.”
This week’s award is the latest in a string of triumphs for the Preservative Party in recent years including the Marsh Award for volunteering in 2021, the 2015 Marsh Volunteer Award for the Yorkshire region, and the 2019 Volunteer of the Year award for City Development at Leeds City Council.
Previously, the Preservative Party has worked on displays about the armed forces and the First World War, a nostalgic look at life as a teenager in Leeds and a time capsule which was installed at Leeds Town Hall.
Councillor Jonathan Pryor, Leeds City Council’s executive member for economy, culture and education, said: “The Preservative Party have done so much incredible work exploring the story of Leeds and giving visitors new ways to learn about the city, its history and heritage.
“Winning this award after planning such a unique exhibition which shines a light on people who have helped make the city we know today is an inspiration and something the city can be proud of. I’d like to congratulate the Preservative Party on this well-deserved award and thank them for all their efforts.”
Overlooked is free to enter and is open at Leeds City Museum until June 25.