Monday, 25 May 2015

Meet the Volunteers

Over the past few weeks, you’ve heard all about the work that’s been going on in the House during our closed season. So we thought it was about time you met some of the volunteers who carry out this work! We have around 50 volunteers who regularly dedicate their time to helping with the running of the house, whether that may be as a Room Guide on our visitor tours, as a Conservation Assistant, or working on some of our other projects such as the inventory photography and transcribing Hardman’s diaries. What arguably makes our visitor experience so special is what all our volunteers have in common; a genuine love for the Hardmans’ House.

I find the property fascinating, even though I am not interested in the technical side of photography. I enjoy meeting the public, giving them a good experience and the camaraderie of the volunteers and staff. I’m constantly learning and sharing information!” - Rosaleen, volunteer since September 2004.

Mathew and Thomas carefully moving some of our picnic flasks to be photographed
Many of our volunteers have been with us since the house first opened its doors, with some getting involved even earlier, at the renovation stage in 2002. We have new recruits joining every year, each with their own skill sets and interests, ensuring that the house is in safe hands.

I’ve fancied participating in showing off and helping conserve historic properties for a long time – I particularly like this ‘city’ property. I started room guiding in the open season, and in the closed season, I’ve enjoyed the inventory marking, conservation cleaning and magazine archiving – all good!” - Mike, volunteer since 2010.

I have a lifelong interest in photography, so am familiar with much of the older aspects. I also spent two periods as an instructor whilst in the Police, so enjoy engaging with visitors in an informative and entertaining way.” - Alex, volunteer since September 2004.

Mathew checking his handy work in our temporary inventory photography studio
We all have different reasons for volunteering. As one of the younger members of the team, I’m on my gap year before starting university in September. Having practically been brought up in National Trust houses, I decided volunteering for one would be a great way to spend my time this year, developing new skills as well as my interest in photography. As for some of our other volunteers…

I decided to become a volunteer at the Hardmans’ House to contribute to the Trust’s efforts to preserve the building and also to meet new people.” - Hannah, volunteer since March 2015.

I’m a long standing National Trust member, and since starting my retirement, I wanted to give my free time to an organisation involved with conservation, buildings and the general public.” 
Jane, volunteer since January 2014.

Pam delicately cleaning a historic backdrop in the Studio
Volunteering can be a very rewarding experience for many different reasons. So what is it that makes our volunteers want to dedicate their spare time to working in the house every week?

Meeting the visitors on the tours – they often have contributions to make. Chatting with other volunteers is enjoyable. I can pick their brains about photographic techniques – many are much more experienced than I am!” - Jen, volunteer since 2011.

The volunteer atmosphere is very friendly and warm.” - Alan, volunteer since June 2014.
I like the flexibility of working here, and I just enjoy the opportunity to give something back. I hope to provide some added value to the work of the National Trust.” - Jane.
I enjoy meeting people, and working from my interest in photography and conservation. For example, when photographing the toys recently, I was fascinated by the size of the collection.”- Roy.

Roy cleaning the fragile 'Noah's Ark' plastic toy
And finally, what advice would our current volunteers give to any possible new recruits?

TRY IT! There’s plenty of support and friendship.” – Rosaleen.

Communicate with fellow volunteers. Don’t be shy, ask others if you’re unsure of anything.
- Tony.

Learn the ‘basics’ of each room, then keep reading, and learning, and listening to the longer serving volunteers. Always show enthusiasm for the subject, and try to involve/engage every visitor in the group.” – Alex.

There are lots of tasks besides guiding. You are sure to find something you enjoy.” – Monica.

If meeting some of our current volunteers has made volunteering for the Hardmans’ House sound like something you’d love to get involved with, then please get in touch! You can apply all year round, but please be aware, our room guides only work during our open season between March and the end of October. Conservation work however, has to be done all year round!

If you’d like a registration form or to find out more information, you can email us at or call us on 0151 709 6261.

Megan Thrift
Winter Conservation Volunteer
The Hardmans' House