ARA Announces Winners of its 2018 Excellence Awards

Margaret Turner, Elspeth Reid and Susan Healy to receive DistinguishedService Awards. Central Bank of Ireland Archives and Erin Lee Winnersof Recordkeeping Service and Recordkeeper of the Year Respectively.

ARA AwardsLogo RGBARA Announces Winners of its 2018 Excellence Awards


Margaret Turner, Elspeth Reid and Susan Healy to receive Distinguished Service Awards


Central Bank of Ireland Archives and Erin Lee Winners of Recordkeeping Service and Recordkeeper of the Year Respectively


30 July 2018

The Archives and Records Association (UK & Ireland) today announces the winners of its annual Excellence Awards for 2018. Inaugurated in 2016, the awards cover three categories:

  • Distinguished Service Award
  • Record-keeping Service of the Year
  • Record-keeper of the Year.

All candidates are nominated by peers or stakeholders in the archives, records and conservation community. The Record-keeping Service and Record-keeper of the Year awards are determined by public vote. The ARA’s Board of Trustees votes on nominations for the Distinguished Service Award (DSA) – usually limited to three recipients per year.

The one remaining ARA Excellence Award for 2018, New Professional of the Year, will be determined in the coming weeks.

Distinguished Service Award

The winners of this year’s DSA are Elspeth Reid, Margaret Turner and Susan Healy.

Susan Healy

Susan is one of the UK’s leading policy experts on freedom of information and data protection having (among other roles) been closely involved in developing and implementing major legislation in these areas since the 1990s. Susan has also focused on translating legislation into useful advice for practitioners, playing a leading role in developing a data protection Code of Practice for UK recordkeepers in the aftermath of the 1998 UK Act. She later led the 2009 revision of the records management Code of Practice under the UK Freedom of Information Act. Recently, Susan has been a leading commentator and adviser on the new EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and given her time selflessly to helping colleagues – in the UK and Ireland – prepare for the new legislation. In addition, Susan has been part of the editorial team of the ARA Grade 1 research journal Archives and Records, which has seen a rapid growth in downloads across the globe in recent years, in no small part due to the professionalism and dedication of Susan and her colleagues.

Elspeth Reid

Elspeth has spent most of her career in the local government sector, becoming archivist for Falkirk District Council in 1992, where she took the service to new heights and led her team to achieve UK Archive Accreditation in March 2014, the first Scottish service to do so. Elspeth also advocated successfully for a records management service for the Council, well before the obligations of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act, 2002. She was again at the fore-front of innovation in the introduction of EDRMS records management systems in Falkirk in 2006. Elspeth has also been a committed mentor, adviser on vocational distance learning courses, and developer of work experience programmes. More widely in Scotland, she was a Commissioner of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS) from 2008-2015 and involved in the formation of Historic Environment Scotland. Selfless, professional to the core, Elspeth epitomises energy, initiative, and commitment to professional ethics and values.

Margaret Turner

Margaret has shown distinguished service in leading the team of volunteers that runs the ARA university accreditation scheme since 1995, which seeks to ensure that archives and records courses at UK and Irish universities maintain and improve standards in line with the needs of the wider profession and help prepare students for the workplace. But she also has an outstanding record of service, as for example Head of Sheffield Archives, and in modernising and changing the approach and thinking of the sector more broadly, at policy and executive level, and with grass-roots professionals. Internationally, Margaret has also helped innumerable professionals from other countries develop and enhance their expertise through her work in support of the International Council on Archives (ICA)

Karl Magee, Archivist at the University of Stirling and Chair of the ARA’s Board of Trustees commented:

“I congratulate Susan, Elspeth and Margaret on their richly-deserved awards. They have been acknowledged experts and opinion-leaders in their fields for much of my career. It is the ‘service’ part that distinguishes them further: always giving back, always trying to bring on and advise the next generation and translate their experience into support for the wider sector. As a group, they have been role models, an inspiration and a credit to their institutions and the record-keeping community.”

Dr Turner, Ms Healy and Ms Reid will receive their awards later in the year.

Recordkeeping Service of the Year

In a very strong competition, the Central Bank of Ireland Archives emerged as the 2018 winner of Recordkeeping Service of the Year.

The Central Bank of Ireland Archive Service has been a leader in promoting and innovating access and facilities, notably its recent decision to open 14,000 documents in the bank’s historical archives to the public and its move to new purpose-built premises in 2017. The Bank’s four-person Records and Archives team, part of the Facilities Management Division, led this game-changing approach, which involved major innovations in policy, technological (online) platforms and physical infrastructure. The outcome is a revitalised outreach strategy and increased media coverage of the Bank as well as (crucially) increased awareness among the Bank’s general staff and management about the brand, compliance and reputation benefits that an in-house archive offers.                                                                                                        

John Chambers, ARA’s Chief Executive Officer, said:

“Many congratulations to the Central Bank of Ireland Archives for winning this year’s recordkeeping service award, the first Irish organisation to do so. I am very much looking forward to seeing first-hand the service and storage advances made at the North Wall Quay premises and learning about the increase in school visits, cultural events and other engagement that the re-energised service has been achieving. As Ireland continues on with its Decade of Centenaries, I hope this award will inspire others in the records sector and remind the general public of the rich heritage on their doorstep. I also pay tribute to the runners-up: Archives + is an outstanding ‘ideas factory’ and would have been a deserved winner in its own right.”

The Central Bank of Ireland Archives will receive its award in Dublin on 22 August.

Record-keeper of the Year

This year’s winner of the individual award for Record-keeper of the Year is Erin Lee of the National Theatre (UK) in London.

Erin is the National Theatre’s archivist, a post she has held since 2013, during which time has become established as a core part of the UK’s performing arts heritage network. Under her leadership, for example, the National Theatre Archive became the first theatre to achieve Accredited Archive Service status. She is currently Chair of the Association of Performing Arts Collections (APAC), the membership organisation for professionals, specialists, and other individuals working with or interested in performing arts heritage in the United Kingdom and Ireland. She is also a Clore Emerging Leader, which identifies young, future leaders in the cultural and heritage sectors, and has led a wider range of initiatives, including on theatre and performance collections, the Archive Trainees UK network, and on external advisory boards, such as BAFTA’s 70th anniversary project in 2017 and as a trustee of the (UK) National Jazz Archive.

John Chambers added:

“These awards are not just about the past, but the future, and recognising emerging and future leaders in our sector. Erin is very much in this category. She has already given extraordinary time, energy and inspiration to so many initiatives – benefiting so many colleagues – but especially in the past 18 months that covers this award. I note also that she has been leading the development of digital capacity at the National Theatre Archive, bringing on board a digital archive assistant from outside the normal entry route into the profession. As we all grapple with the need to improve diversity of people and routes into the sector, Erin has shown what can be done at the coal-face by taking a lead in embedding new approaches. I also commend the strong runner-up for this award, Asif Shakoor, founder of the London-based South Asian Contribution to Great Britain project”

Ms Lee will receive her award at the ARA annual Conference in Glasgow on 30 August.

Notes for Editors

The ARA’s Excellence Awards began in 2016 and are open to archivists, records managers and archive conservators across the UK and Republic of Ireland. For further details, contact Jon Elliott on +44 7587 635402 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The Archives and Records Association (UK & Ireland) acts is the leading professional and membership body for archivists, records managers and conservators in the British Isles. It currently has around 2,500 members and has been growing steadily for the past five years.