#VolunteersWeek: Life as a Museum Volunteer

Tonight is the inaugural SHARE Museums East Volunteer Awards, which are taking place in Bury St Edmunds. Volunteers from Braintree Museums have been short-listed for four of these awards, so I asked Deke Dudley to share her experiences of volunteering at the museum.

Having worked for years in a demanding job as a Holiday Rep, long irregular hours, meeting wonderful people, meeting not-so-wonderful people and meeting the downright rude, impossible people, I was at a bit of a loose end on my retirement and permanent return to the UK.  Aha!  Volunteering would appear to be the answer, I could choose my hours to fit in around grandchild minding and it would, hopefully, be more flexible than a proper job.

Luckily, I decided to look in the Braintree District Museum for current bus timetables and lo and behold, there was an advertisement asking for volunteers.  I applied and was accepted immediately, I started volunteering on a Thursday and that has continued for over three years now.  It was soon discovered that I am computer literate so after a few months I became Volunteer Co-ordinator, my duties have been varied and various, besides keeping all our volunteers apprised of everything that is going on there is helping in the shop, helping with children’s activities, stock-taking, envelope filling, manning stalls at various fayres amongst other assorted activities.

Life as a volunteer is definitely not boring, and as support is constantly provided by staff, there is no need ever to feel out of your depth.   Volunteers provide such a vital role within modern society whether in charity shops, hospitals, museums, schools or anywhere else that asks for help, that the thanks received, although profuse, pales in comparison to the sense of fulfilment achieved by volunteering.

Volunteering is now in my blood, so much so that when I moved to Finchingfield and the opportunity arose to volunteer at the newly restored Guildhall, I offered my services there too, so I can now add to my list of duties, serving at coffee mornings, barmaid and giving talks to various groups on Finchingfield and the Guildhall.  So to anybody thinking of volunteering, no matter what you think you can’t do, you do have something to offer, and somebody somewhere needs your help, so go for it!  Remember, Volunteers are not, not paid because they are worthless, they are not paid because they priceless.

Good luck to everyone nominated for one of the Volunteering Awards.

Don’t forget that SHARE’s new Volunteer Coordinators Forum is launching on 2nd July!

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