Altrincham’s Queen of the High Street is gap year student


Art with a Heart delivers Arts for the Community in Altrincham, contributing to the regeneration of the heart of the town. Opening its doors to the Public on September 2012, in what once an derelict unit of 2 years, AWAH delivered six exhibitions over four months attracting more than 6,000 visitors.

A key member of the AWAH management team – and exhibition curator – is Maddie Stocker, a 19 year old GAP Year student.

Maddie joined the team as a volunteer at the end of September, having successfully studied Art to A Level. A victim of increased University fees, Maddie chose to take a year out to broaden her experience of the Arts to assist her with her options.

Starting at two days per week, Maddie helped by manning the first exhibition. Quiet and unassuming, Maddie’s work ethics and attitude soon became apparent resulting in her becoming an active participant in the running of the Arts Centre in a matter of weeks.

Volunteers are a key component to AWAH’s success and Maddie became responsible for managing their availability on behalf of Karen Wroe. By earning their respect and trust, Maddie ensured the Gallery was always open on time.

Continuing to be exposed to different aspects of the business, Maddie created promotional material and was presented the opportunity to curate her first exhibition in November. Taking this in her stride, she successfully created an interesting exhibition and continues to do so.

Further developing her skills, Maddie was given the responsibility of organising the first Trafford Schools Open, under my mentorship. Working together and in a matter of weeks, the inaugural Open opened its doors to the Public in January. The feedback from the schools, students and parents was overwhelming, a testament to the success of the project and work performed by Maddie.

Maddie is still at crossroads; however her experience gained from AWAH as helped her to identify the aspects of the Arts she enjoys and equally important those not right for her. She continues to be a major part of AWAH, working with me on the strategy and planning the way forward.

Volunteering should be more than manning; it is about mentoring, skills development and experience. This is what AWAH offers its young volunteers, Maddie is a testament to this.

Maddie has been nominated for the Queen of the High Street blog by Art With A Heart founder Karen Wroe


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