Workington's Helena Thompson Museum has been awarded the 'Learning Outside the Classroom Quality Badge' from the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom (LOtC).

Helena Thompson Museum is the only museum in West Cumbria to receive the accreditation and the third museum in the county, along with Penrith and Eden Museum and Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery Trust.

The Department for Education endorses the badge for outside organisations which meet nationally recognised standards, including appropriate safety standards and liability insurance.

Museum Manager Tricia Poole co-ordinated the application with help from volunteer directors of the museum, Ann Wareing and Elly Todhunter, both from Workington.

Ms Poole said: "We were chuffed to bits to receive this accreditation. It was a lot of work and Ann, Elly and I had a lot of paperwork to organise, making sure all the risk assessments and policies are in place. It wasn't an easy application, but we are delighted."

In the lead up to Christmas the museum has accommodated over 400 children from schools in Workington, Harrington, Maryport, Kells and Whitehaven. They come for a variety of different interactive days, depending on the curriculum that they are studying.

Themed events include: The Victorians; museum curator for a day; The Helena Thompson experience; Workington buildings and maps; Anglo Saxon Britain and Cumbria; Viking Britain and Cumbria; The Curwens and Workington Hall; A Victorian Christmas; and 100 years ago in Workington, including Beatrix Potter. Though Tricia, Elly, Ann and the volunteer team are willing to tailor a visit for specific local history and curriculum requirements.

As a former school governor, Ms Poole is fully aware of the needs of schools when visiting outside organisations and was able to make sure that health and safety, insurances and safeguarding issues are all covered at the museum. Being awarded the badge now means that the museum can carry the logo on their website and letterhead, so that organisations know that all the risk assessment requirements and policies are already in place.

Tricia said they don't do the themed days for profit, they do it to keep alive the heritage of the house and town and to let the children learn about the local area and Workington Hall.

In order for the days to be self-sustainable the usual charge is £6.50 per child, which includes lunch and the day lasts from 9.30am to 2.30pm.

Victoria Infant School's year two pupils took part in a 'Workington buildings and maps' themed day at the museum on January 10 and year two class teacher Amelia Park said: "Having been to the museum for many years on our school trips, we were excited to book again for our current topic of what life was like over 100 years ago. The Helena Thompson Museum staff organised a fun-filled morning of activities which provided the children with lots of information about Workington in the past. The staff go above and beyond to accommodate us and the children always come away wanting to go back for another visit. We will definitely be going back again to extend our knowledge of our local area. The Helena Thompson Museum deserve to be recognised for the hard work they provide to the local schools."

Comments from some of the Victoria Infant School pupils that attended the day include: "It was exciting because we made sculptures based on Workington Hall and I made a castle window". "I enjoyed our trip to Helena Thompson. We went for a walk around Workington Hall and had to look for all the different parts of the Hall like the kitchen, larder, dungeons and many other rooms". "We played an awesome game of monopoly which had lots of buildings around Workington. Some old ones and some new buildings. It was so fun." "We learnt lots about Workington in the past that we didn’t know. It was very interesting to find out new things".

Ms Todhunter said that a six year old boy from the school had asked why they had zombies on the wall. After looking to see what he meant she explained that they weren't zombies, but were white bed coats. She was pleased that the children were inquisitive about history and willing to ask questions.

The badge demonstrates that the museum is suitably equipped to work with many different groups including schools, scouts, guides and families.

More information can be found on the Helena Thompson Museum website at or by contacting Tricia Poole on 01900 64040 or by email at