A team of young volunteers, known as the Preservative Party, received a prestigious national award for their research and rediscovery of untold stories in Leeds. The group, consisting of history enthusiasts aged 14-24, were named joint winners of the Volunteers of the Year at the Museums + Heritage Awards in London.
The Preservative Party earned the award for their creation of the exhibition “Overlooked” at Leeds City Museum. The exhibition delved into the lives and legacies of individuals from Leeds whose stories had remained untold or underrepresented. Through extensive collaboration, the group explored national archives, the museum’s collection, and established connections with community groups. Their efforts revealed lesser-known facts, events, and characters that played a role in shaping modern-day Leeds.
One notable individual featured in the exhibition was David Oluwale, an immigrant from Nigeria who faced discrimination due to his mental health, homelessness, and race. Tragically, he drowned in the River Aire on April 18, 1969, after enduring years of harassment. “Overlooked” showcased a range of documents and objects shedding new light on David’s life and the profound impact his death had on the city. The exhibition even included a replica of the blue plaque erected in his memory.
Jordan Keighley, the youth engagement curator at Leeds City Museum, expressed immense pride in the Preservative Party and their well-deserved award. Keighley emphasized that the young volunteers were the driving force behind “Overlooked,” and their passion, enthusiasm, and determination brought these untold stories into the spotlight. The inclusion of young people’s voices in museum exhibitions offers fresh perspectives on history and the opportunity to pose important, thought-provoking questions that shape the experiences of present and future museum-goers.
The recent Volunteers of the Year award adds to the Preservative Party’s list of accomplishments, 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. In the past, the group has contributed to displays focusing on the armed forces and the First World War, provided a nostalgic glimpse into teenage life in Leeds, and even installed a time capsule at Leeds Town Hall.
Councillor Jonathan Pryor, the executive member for economy, culture, and education at Leeds City Council, commended the Preservative Party for their remarkable work in exploring the story of Leeds and providing visitors with innovative ways to learn about the city’s history and heritage. He described the exhibition as an inspiration and a source of pride for the city, offering congratulations to the Preservative Party for their well-deserved award and expressing gratitude for their dedicated efforts.
The “Overlooked” exhibition is currently open and free to enter at Leeds City Museum until June 25. Visitors can also explore the accompanying events program for more information. For details, please visit: Overlooked: People of Leeds as you’ve never seen them – exhibition at Leeds City Museum.