Sunderland's new Seventeen Nineteen scoops two national awards as old Holy Trinity Church is transformed

The team at the old Holy Trinity Church in the East End, which has been transformed thanks to a £5.1m grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, are celebrating after its volunteers scooped two national awards.

However, while painstaking restoration work has been taking place at the building which is cared for by the national charity Churches Conservation Trust (CCT), its volunteers have already been working with local communities.

Ahead of its launch, the church is already proving to be a success, after winning two honours at the CCT’s National Volunteer of the Year awards.

Seventeen Nineteen centre manager Tracey Mienie.

For the third year running, Seventeen Nineteen won Volunteer of the North while their Curious Creator team, where individuals brought to life a specific event from local history, won National Volunteer Team of the Year.

Members of the team worked on a range of imaginative and unique activities ranging from a project on the children of Sunderland which evolved into a beautifully-bound book which will be digitalised to the creation of glass panels which feature key events from the city’s past.

Other initiatives included a craft pack based around Wearside stories which were sent to care homes to use during lockdown and a weekly vlog around faith, work and football in Sunderland.

All the projects from the Curious Creator team – who are based nationwide - will go on show when the venue officially opens, giving people from across the region and beyond the opportunity to see these award-winning pieces of work.

The church has been restored in all its Georgian glory

Lily Daniels, Participation and Engagement Officer at Seventeen Nineteen and who worked with all of the volunteers, is delighted with the result.

“They supported, inspired and challenged one another to work harder, probe deeper and think wider about how these stories could inspire others,” she said.

“Working digitally they honed their research skills and networked with industry professionals to deliver superb work. They have collaborated under some of the strangest circumstances- most of them never meeting in person, some of them never having visited Sunderland.

“Very few of the volunteers were from creative backgrounds but found incredibly inspiring ways to share their research.”

The Seventeen Nineteen venue is named after the year Holy Trinity first opened

Tyesha McGann, who worked with a glass artist on the creation of the panels, said it had been an amazing experience.

“Our objective at Seventeen Nineteen was to bring to light the hidden histories that have shaped Sunderland and its community over time, and to tie these stories back to Holy Trinity Church,” she said.

“The research undertaken by the group of curious curators and heritage detectives brought to light elements of Sunderland’s past that can help community members better identify with and connect to the church and Sunderland as a whole. This has been an incredible project to be a part of, and I am proud that our work has been recognised to this level.”

Peter Aiers, Chief Executive Officer of CCT, said he was delighted with the level of support that volunteers gave.

“Engagement with the CCT should be a joyful and meaningful collaboration. Our volunteers show the passion that people have for these buildings and the support they’re willing to give to the Churches Conservation Trust,” he said.

Anyone interested in finding out more about volunteering can do so at https://www.visitchurches.org.uk/1719/get-stuck-in/volunteer-with-us.html

*The Seventeen Nineteen Spring Fayre will take place from 10am to 5pm on Saturday, April 16 with artisan stalls, makers and bakers, craft sessions, performances, children’s rides, hot food and drinks and an art exhibition.

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