We are immensely proud to announce that we received our second Sandford Award this November, a prestigious recognition of our volunteer-led education provision.  

The Sandford Award recognises our delivery of high-quality, curriculum-aligned learning experiences for students, ranging from primary school children to A-Level and university students. We utilise Ouseburn's rich and fascinating heritage and landscape to bring students’ experiences to life through out-of-classroom trips. Ouseburn Trust volunteer guides deliver two key events, specially tailored Victoria Tunnel tours and Back to the Future guided walks. 

In the last 12 months alone, the Ouseburn Trust has offered unique, immersive educational experiences to almost 2,000 students. Our volunteers have led themed Ouseburn guided walks with over 300 students from sixth forms and universities from across the region, and almost 50 primary school groups have ventured into the Victoria Tunnel to help with Victorian history or World War 2 studies. 

Every single Ouseburn Trust educational experience has been delivered by our team of volunteer guides. It is the guides’ passion, enthusiasm and knowledge that the Sandford Award recognises.  

Photo: Volunteer guides receiving Sandford Award at the ceremony in Hampton Court in early November 2023. John Cornhill, Back to the Future guide is on the right and Pete Harrison, Victoria Tunnel guide is in the middle. 

Emily Toth, our Heritage Project Officer states: “I am very proud to work alongside our incredible team of volunteers – their skill, knowledge, enthusiasm, and creativity are at the heart of everything we do. They have produced such an exceptional learning offer. I’m thrilled they have been given special recognition by the Sandford Award.” 

The Sandford Awards offer recognition for formal, curriculum-aligned, heritage learning programmes that take place in the historic setting or natural environment and use the history and collections or natural resources to engage, inform and inspire visitors. 

Sandford Award Lead Assessor Alison MacPhee stated: “The Ouseburn Trust of which the Victoria Tunnel forms a part, receives a well-deserved second Sandford Award. Now comprising valley tours in addition to the Tunnel tours, an oasis hidden in the centre of the Industrial heartland of Newcastle, adds renewed purpose to their rich and varied natural and historical heritage offerings.  

Clearly, The Trust continues to develop, going from strength to strength since the 2018 award with renewed purpose now offering a plethora of experiential visits allowing visitors of all ages to learn not only about the Victoria Tunnel but also about the geographic and economic environmental context in which it is situated. What child could not enjoy reliving history in a dark tunnel beneath an industrial heartland and what teenager could fail to be fascinated by the historical and geographical evolution of its surrounding area and its relevance to today’s commercial and community regeneration in both a local and national context? The Trust has succeeded in creating very varied as well as educationally relevant experiences combining history with urban regeneration, keeping both in balance with community at its heart. Ultimately, the increased offering will give the Trust an even more sustainable future.” 

A visiting primary school teacher from October 2023 said the following after a Victoria Tunnel experience: “Our children enjoyed the visit and it very much enhanced their knowledge of World War 2. The volunteers were brilliant and all was so well organised.” 

We are grateful that many schools return to Ouseburn Valley through the Trust’s learning experience year after year, bringing each new year group to experience the heritage of the Valley.  

Alongside their in-person visits, the Trust offers online resources to support learning at home and in the classroom. A teacher who accompanied their sixth-form students on a guided walk in October commented: “This is our second time as a school group on the Ouseburn walking tour and we thoroughly enjoyed it. We shall be back in two years to bring our next cohort of A-Level students. The talk is incredibly informative and there is a huge range of resources on the website. We teach A-Level Geography and this visit is incredibly beneficial for our Changing Place and Contemporary Urban Environments topics.” 

Find our learning resources and educational offers here.