Esther Fox – National Lottery Award 2023 Winner

Esther Fox, Screen South's Head of Accentuate is the National Lottery Awards Heritage Winner for 2023

SIR TONY ROBINSON HONOURS HERITAGE CAMPAIGNER WITH MAJOR AWARD

Britain’s foremost face of popular history, Sir Tony Robinson, has honoured an inspirational heritage campaigner and Hastings resident with an iconic National Lottery Award to celebrate her incredible work in transforming the museum experience and championing opportunities for disabled people in the heritage sector.

Sir Tony Robinson, who presented 20 seasons of Channel 4’s archaeology series, Time Team, visited Hastings Museum on 20th October to announce Esther Fox as the winner of the Heritage category in the 2023 National Lottery Awards.

The National Lottery Awards are the annual celebration of the inspirational people and projects who do extraordinary things with the help of National Lottery funding. A judging panel whittled down 3,780 incredible nominees to just seven winners and Esther faced stiff competition to become the winner in this year’s Heritage category.

As Head of Accentuate at Screen South, Esther Fox is the Project Lead for Curating for Change, an England-wide heritage project that aims to tackle the underrepresentation of D/deaf, disabled and neurodivergent people both in the museum workforce and within museum exhibits.

A true champion of opportunities for disabled people, Esther has been crowned as a winner for her incredible work in improving experiences for neurodiverse and disabled people in the heritage sector. 

Curating for Change is committed to enhancing opportunities for people wanting to pursue a career in the museum sector. A landmark Fellowship and Traineeship programme includes paid work placements with mentoring and training opportunities for D/deaf, disabled and neurodivergent people, with 20 partner museums across England taking part.

Thanks to a grant of nearly one million pounds (£950,900) from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, Curating for Change importantly produces exhibitions and events exploring disabled people’s histories. Over the past 5 years, more than £3 million of National Lottery funding has supported 21 projects specifically addressing deaf and disabled communities within the heritage sector. 

Esther said: “I’m truly delighted to have won and that our work is being recognised. It’s so important that our museums are representative of all people and all histories, so we can see ourselves reflected, not hidden. In particular we must provide opportunities for D/deaf, disabled and neurodivergent curators to uncover the fascinating and often overlooked histories of disabled people, for all to enjoy. Our Curating for Change Fellows are leading this process, so this award isn’t just an honour for me, but for the whole team too.”

Presenting the award, Sir Tony Robinson, said: “This National Lottery Award is a wonderful recognition for Esther and the hard work of the team behind the project who are working tirelessly to ensure that more D/deaf, disabled and neurodiverse people have access to, and can experience the joy of museums and our heritage. Accessibility means better heritage attractions, family experiences, inclusion and happier people.

Changing the heritage industry for the better, the project is also addressing the current underrepresentation of disabled people working in the sector and is uncovering the often-hidden history of disabled people for all to access.”

Sir Tony added: “Every heritage project and destination should follow her example, so we can make our wonderful heritage more inclusive and accessible for everyone.”

Winners in each category received a £5,000 cash prize for their organisation and an iconic National Lottery Awards trophy.

Thanks to National Lottery players, more than £30 million goes to good causes across the UK every week, which in turn helps people like Esther continue to carry out incredible work in their communities.