Profile: Dawn Carroll - Museums Association

Profile: Dawn Carroll

Dropping out of the 21st century in favour of the Tudor period provides relaxation for a museum dementia educator
Interview by John Holt
Dawn Carroll is the education networks manager at National Museums Liverpool (NML), where 200 staff have become Dementia Friends. NML’s House of Memories programme provides health and social care staff with additional skills and resources to support people living with dementia.

How can museums help in this area?

A lot of museums carry out reminiscence- and memory-based activities but it’s also important that, for example, the front-of-house and education staff receive training in order to be able to talk with someone living with dementia.

How did the training work with health sector staff begin?

We received funding in 2012 when the Department of Health was looking at alternatives to anti-psychotic medication.

What else can museums provide?

The condition prevents people developing new memories so it makes sense for us to work with the health sector as we are the custodians of memory and stimulating places to which people respond.

We’re also creating an app for family or care home settings in which 100 objects from the collections are brought to life through multimedia.

And when you’re not working hard in 21st-century Liverpool, you might be found…

… Living as a Tudor in the English countryside. I was always interested in Henry VIII so when I saw an advert for the Tudor experience in 1997, I thought I’d fancy the lifestyle.

I go to Kentwell Hall in Suffolk where there can be several hundred people on site living as Tudor folk. You each re-create a different occupation, whether that’s the gentry living in the house itself, a builder producing a pavilion, a wool crafter, potter and so on.

Who do you become?

I work as a travelling player, drumming along with the bagpipers. You try to leave as much of the modern day at the gate as you can and people really get into the swing of it.

Some do nip out in the evening to the shops. After a week at the hall, you really notice how noisy the 21st century is. The other thing on returning to the here and now is that you can forget to switch off the Tudor English.

You can be back in the office and easily find yourself wishing someone, “Good day, stout fellow”, or saying yea and nay rather than yes and no.

Can’t you just elect to be Tudor high society and spend your week feasting in the big house?

The aristocracy moved in dangerous circles in those days. I think it’s more interesting at the lower end of the social scale, eating nothing but pottage.

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