Our last blog was dedicated to Sonja Dosanjh, who retired as our Volunteer Coordinator after a 17-year association with the Museum. So, we’ll start this one by welcoming our new Coordinator, Hannah Leese, who takes over the mantle of looking after the 92 strong volunteer work force. Hannah, a native of Devon, studied Film & TV production at university and has been working at the Museum since 2016. She started in the Marketing Department, but then in 2019 took on the role of HR Coordinator, which now encompasses this additional role.
At the end of last year, 18 volunteers received their 10-year service awards from Museum MD Jeff Coope. All were from the initial intake of 30 volunteers, recruited during the summer of 2012. As explained in our last blog, vehicle inspection and recording data were the first tasks undertaken, before the new Collections Centre came on stream.
However, since then volunteer numbers have significantly increased, as have the numerous tasks we now undertake, both inside and outside the Museum.
The bulk of the volunteer force is still very much involved with guiding and tours. Whilst this was originally just focused on the Collections Centre, as the Museum expands, we are now assisting with guiding in the main building as well. We’re also getting involved in the many special events, such as quiz nights, car gatherings and shows that the Museum regularly puts on.
Four volunteers are still involved in vehicle data collection and recording, as the Museum collection constantly grows with new acquisitions. A more recent sizeable acquisition was the transfer of around 50 vehicles from Vauxhall Motor’s vehicle collection, which now reside at the Museum.
A small team of volunteers continue with various restoration projects, the most recent one being the refurbishment of the large collection of display engines the Museum had in store. Their current project is the part restoration of a 1936 Rover Speed 14 - pictured below with doors removed.
Refurbish projects – the 1936 Rover and numerous display engines
The Museum’s archive section has always had a volunteer presence and the number has increased to around eight over the last few years. Recent additions to the archive collection have come from both Lucas and Vauxhall, which all need sorting and collating. It’s an interesting fact, that hardly a week goes by without someone donating something from the motor industry’s past, all of which need attention.
Recording history, literally has been largely the task volunteer, Vince Hall. Oral history is an important and always interesting part of the Museum’s mission. Vince interviews people involved in the motor industry, both past and present, many of them his fellow volunteers.
Whilst the above activities have largely been in place since the beginning, it’s the creation of what is known as the Outreach Team that has generated many of the new projects over the last couple of years. Led by Emma Rawlinson of the Learning and Engagement Team, approximately 25 volunteers are now actively involved.
One of the first projects was going out into the community, visiting care homes, dementia cafes, health and well-being groups and schools, with a large collection of motoring memorabilia. This has recently expanded during the cold spell and current economic climate, with Warm Hub centre visits, which have sprung up in the area. Not only have these been a success and a great stimulator, but they have also helped in promoting the Museum and its mission to serve the community. Some of the groups mentioned, particularly schools, also make visits to the Museum and again the volunteers assist with the tours and object handling.
The Museum was an early contributor to the STEM project, which has now grown into STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths). Recent projects have included helping nearby MOD Kineton with a series of learning sessions, whilst six volunteers are currently preparing and distributing STEAM bags as part of the Community Pantry project.
Finally, we have around 18 volunteers, who over the last couple of years have been preparing and are now delivering talks on various as aspects of motoring history related to the Museum. 7 talks have now been completed and approved. They are: Wizardry on Wheels – The Mini; The Most Beautiful Car in the World – The E-Type Jaguar; From Farm to Front Line – The Land Rover; History of the British Sports Car; Evolution of the British Motor Industry; The Car’s the Star and The Crown and the Car. All run for around 45 minutes, with over 60 relevant and interesting slides for most talks. All talks can now be booked, for delivery at an outside venue, or at the Museum.
It is hoped most, if not all the talks, will be delivered during the Museum’s 30th Anniversary week - 14th to 20th August. More news on that will follow, but one thing is sure, the volunteers will be playing a big part during the week.