Awards Judging Panel

AHI Awards Judging Process

The five-member judging panel review all entries, then meet to discuss and shortlist the entries. The panel is chaired by an AHI Trustee and has a representative from each of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The panel aims to shortlisted 3 entrants and commend up to another 3 per category. The final number of shortlisted and commended sites in each category depends on the quality of entrants and how many meet the criteria to be shortlisted. It is possible that there may be more or less than 3 shortlisted entrants in a category.

Each entrant who is not shortlisted is provided with a short feedback paragraph explaining what the judges like about the project and why it was not shortlisted.

Site judges anonymously visit shortlisted entrants in a mentor-mentee pair and assess each site according to a standard judging form.

Sites judges complete the form in their pairs, scoring the entrant according to different interpretive criteria and writing a summary. This is led by the mentor. They recommend whether the site should win the award or not.

THe judging panel meets to review site judges’ reports and select the winning entrants; they can request additional information from the site judges and/or entrant at this stage, if necessary, to inform their decision. The panel chooses a winner in each category as well as the overall recipients of the AHI Awards for Excellence in Interpretation and the Lifetime Achievement Award. The panel can provide a special mention to deserving runners-up. Each shortlisted entrant receives feedback based on the site judges’ report. This summarises the judges' comments and highlights how the project achieved interpretive excellence along with any opportunities for improvement.

Bill Bevan
Bill Bevan


Bill worked as a tour guide at Wordsworth’s Dove Cottage in Grasmere during the 1980s. He developed an interest in heritage interpretation as an archaeologist because of his belief that we all have a right to learn about our past. For Bill, interpretation helps us to understand something about the differing ways people at different times perceived and inhabited their worlds.

Bill set up inHeritage in 2005 and was the Interpretation Project Officer for the Peak District National Park Authority between 2006 and 2010. A lot of his current interpretation work is with helping community groups realise their ambitions while ensuring interpretive best practice.

Bill is currently vice-chair of the AHI and Chair of the Awards Sub-group.
James Pardoe
James Pardoe

Panel Member for England

James has nearly 30 years of experience in the heritage sector; being an Associate of AHI since 2001, spending some time as a Committee member (responsible for education).

James teaches heritage interpretation on both undergraduate and postgraduate taught programmes. He supervises PhD students in these areas; has created and delivered a number of relevant heritage programmes; and has acted as a visiting lecturer and been an external advisor on heritage programmes at other universities both in the UK and abroad.

James has also acted in an advisory and consultancy role for a number of bodies responsible for heritage in the UK and overseas. He has been involved in a range of practical projects on interpretation themes and been invited to guest curate exhibitions, including being seconded to a number of museum and heritage projects.

James brings a broad and in-depth knowledge and experience of the practice of interpretation to this role across a range of different examples. Additionally he is aware of concepts surrounding the idea of what may be considered best practice.
Jennifer McCrea
Jennifer McCrea

Panel Member for Ireland

Jennifer specialises in audience development and interpretation and she focuses on creating engagement opportunities for a broad range of audiences through rich and relevant interpretation. Jennifer has over twenty years’ experience in education programme development, volunteering initiatives, as well as museum training, development and planning.

Over the last five years she has designed and delivered audience development and engagement initiatives with the Irish Heritage Trust. These include ground breaking interactive learning resources for teenagers, innovative interpretive strategies as well as community involvement and volunteering programmes. She has used her professional background to create high quality and authentic cultural tourism experiences in Ireland and across Europe through researching and coordinating cultural tours and has been involved in the preparation and coordination of a number of community access and learning programmes with a range of clients from Fáilte Ireland (the National Tourism Authority), the Highlanes Gallery, Drogheda, the County Museum Dundalk, Droichead Arts Centre, Drogheda, Strokestown Park, Co Roscommon, The Dublin Tenement Experience and Fota House, Arboretum & Gardens in Cork.

Kev Theaker
Kev Theaker

Panel Member for Scotland

Kev has 15 years experience of teaching interpretation and interpretation related subjects, which includes teaching students how to critically assess interpretation. His academic studies, both at MSc and PhD involved evaluating interpretation, primarily focused on the use of art based techniques for visitor engagement. Prior to this Kev have 15 years experience of working in the countryside management sector largely delivering direct interpretation and managing country park visitor centres.

Kev is interested in judging, particularly in looking at the entire visitor experience and interpretation within the larger context. Key concerns for him are the integration of interpretive media with each other, and the quality of interpretive writing.
Ruth Coulthard
Ruth Coulthard

Vice-Chair and Panel Member for Wales

Ruth first discovered just how powerful successful interpretation can be during a childhood visit to the Caen Memorial in France - a museum focused on war but dedicated to peace. It wasn't a comfortable experience, but an inspiring one. She moved swiftly on to a love of medieval abbeys and cathedrals and then to travel. When Ruth finally settled down there was no option but to study tourism and heritage interpretation.

She has been fortunate to work in some incredible locations including some of the UK’s Cathedrals, on the Jurassic Coast working in sustainable tourism and interpretation before moving to the Brecon Beacons National Park. Here, Ruth looks after education, information and interpretation for the Park. It’s a job all about inspiring people to love and explore the landscape and its cultural heritage which is perfect.