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The degree really helped me to articulate my passion for facilitating public engagement with heritage, allowing me to stand out in the interview, and the wealth of relevant knowledge I gained about the current heritage sector has been invaluable in my role.
Megan Wilkes

A University Centre Shrewsbury graduate is leading the way in helping the next generation discover nature and heritage at some of Shropshire’s most-loved attractions.

After gaining a Distinction in her Master’s in Museums Practice, including winning an award for her exceptional work, Megan Wilkes is using her expertise to encourage younger audiences and families to make the most of the landscape and history at National Trust county sites.

Within a short time of completing her studies, Megan took on a role as a Senior Visitor Experience Officer at Attingham Park and Sunnycroft, and now designs and delivers outdoor activity trails, together with supporting events and programming.

The sites’ trails and events are proving extremely popular, with more than 4,000 participants enjoying Attingham’s recent sensory, tactile and accessible Easter trail within just three weeks.

She describes the role at the Shrewsbury and Wellington estates as “one of my biggest achievements to date” and a dream “to help to engage children and families with the special spaces that we as a charitable trust are conserving”.

Megan adds: “The degree really helped me to articulate my passion for facilitating public engagement with heritage, allowing me to stand out in the interview, and the wealth of relevant knowledge I gained about the current heritage sector has been invaluable in my role.”

During her year at University Centre Shrewsbury, Megan, from South Shropshire, achieved the highest mark in Museums Practice for her vision for the Wroxeter Roman City museum, won the History and Archaeology Postgraduate Dissertation Prize across Chester and Shrewsbury work areas for 2021/22, and the McConnel-sponsored Dissertation Prize for Shrewsbury students.

She says: “Receiving formal recognition from my university when I was awarded the Postgraduate Dissertation Prizes was a highlight in my studies. My lecturer provided me with a unique opportunity as I visited the site and was able to discuss my ideas with them. This helped me form a vision to redesign interpretation for Wroxeter Roman City, a local world-renowned English Heritage site. By considering public opinions and recognising potential in previously overlooked assets (grounded in my course's theory), I was able to explore innovative ways of engaging the public with the site's incredible history and collections.”

Megan explains that she really enjoyed this mix of theory and practice in the course, also taking part in site visits and in department heritage projects, volunteering on the Shrewsbury Castle archaeological dig. She initially chose the postgraduate course as “an ideal bridge between my Ancient History undergraduate degree and the start of my career”.

The 22-year-old’s achievements are all the more impressive in the light of the global pandemic unfolding at the time. Gaining her Master’s was not without its challenges and she shares that the emotional toll of the pandemic made it difficult to stay motivated at times. However, she adds: “My lecturers and tutor were always on-hand to offer support and guidance whenever needed, whether this was related to my studies or personal wellbeing.”

Now with a new era in her life, and looking to the future, Megan says: “I am always up for learning new skills and gaining new perspectives, and would love to continue helping the public to engage with the places and collections I love.”

Dr Morn Capper, Senior Lecturer in History and Heritage and Programme Leader for Museums Practice said: “Despite starting the course during COVID and the challenges of this, Megan has shown exceptional fortitude to achieve the highest mark in Museums Practice for her vision for the Wroxeter Roman City museum, and to be awarded the Postgraduate Dissertation Prize. We are proud and grateful for the way local heritage sites engage with our students

“Her passion in exploring how heritage can support our wellbeing has been inspiring. She is an asset to the course, the university and to the National Trust in her new leadership role.”