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Sharon Nolan

Athelstan Museum’s chairperson was the ‘perfect choice’ for Malmesbury’s top citizen award

Sharon Nolan, chairperson of the Athelstan Museum council has been named Malmesbury’s Citizen of the Year 2021/22.

The ceremony took place recently at the Town Hall during the Malmesbury Town Council’s Annual Town Meeting.

The award is presented annually to a member of the local community who has provided a significant contribution to the town over a sustained period. Her award reflects the outstanding contribution and the impact Sharon has made since first being appointed chair of the Athelstan Museum in 2015. 

Her achievements include overseeing major physical developments to the structure of the museum, including the addition of a mezzanine level, as well as managing the restoration and refurbishment of the Rausing Building, which was the former Moravian Church. 

Sharon said of the award: “It is a great honour to receive this award. Malmesbury is a very special place. The location makes it special but so do the people. There are a great number of volunteers in the town, I am just one of them. Thank you, Malmesbury.”

Presenting the award, outgoing mayor Paul Smith said: “Sharon’s award is thoroughly deserved – for her fantastic commitment and contribution to the museum and the town, and for her personal leadership and achievements, and for her ability to work in a collegiate and collaborative way with the many volunteers who help run the museum.”

Perhaps the most visual example of her tenure as chair has been the acquisition of Malmesbury’s own Turner – the JM Turner’s painting of Malmesbury Abbey, which was completed in 1827. 

The artist visited the town three times and made several sketches of the abbey from which he later painted the watercolour that went on to form part of his celebrated collection ‘Picturesque Views in England and Wales’ (1825-38). It is also believed to be the only finished watercolour of that particular aspect of Malmesbury Abbey. 

The painting is the centrepiece of a rotating exhibition that celebrates local art and which includes work by Thomas Hearne who is said to have influenced Turner himself. The museum has also recently put on display a hoard of 1,266 Roman coins. Discovered locally in 2012 the coins underwent painstaking conservation before finally being put on display and is known as the Malmesbury Hoard. 

Sharon’s award also recognises her major fundraising actions for the museum and for galvanising the voluntary groups that ensure the museum continues to thrive as one of the leading volunteer-led museums in the country. 

She added: “We are always on the lookout for more volunteers to help with different aspects of the museum. For anyone interested, the museum’s website shows our upcoming events.”

For more information about the Athelstan Museum and its Turner please visit

Fiona Scott Media Consultancy Swindon

Scott Media

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