I signed up to be a Volunteer after my first visit to the Museum in February this year.
I was stunned at the amount and variety of vehicles on display and the friendliness and helpfulness of the staff (both paid and volunteers). Having had a lifelong passion for classic cars, I immediately wanted to be part of the Museum. The idea of being around well-aged classics appealed to me, each with a story to tell and a fascinating history – and that’s just the volunteers!
Hannah Leese handled the signing up process so well (as did her colleagues). Everyone there has made me feel so welcome. I have now done around 12 shifts and every single one has had something special for me to bring home and share with my wife, family and friends.
For me, being at the Museum is an escape – an escape from a world of constant bad news bulletins, social media, newspapers and TV news, highlighting conflict between countries, people’s views, and politics. It is often about people that don’t want to be somewhere but are and others that just don’t like the world as it is today and can’t see and appreciate all its beauty. I like to escape to a place where there is no conflict - and there are three key factors as to why I find escaping into Museum volunteering so enjoyable:
- I am spending time with experienced and knowledgeable volunteers that mostly have
at least one classic car each and often a fascinating (often automotive) career path. I
frequently learn something new from them – they want to be there.
- I get to meet interesting people from all over the world. Already I have seen many from Australia, New Zealand, USA, Scandinavia, Europe and all corners of the UK. All of which either have classics of their own (and they are keen to share) or automotive backgrounds or simply have an interest in classic cars – they want to be there.
- I am surrounded by classic cars of all types. I particularly like the prototypes, as I can see the evolution of a vehicle with my own eyes. I also like to get to know the stories, history and pedigree of the vehicles on display – I want to be there.
With the Museum’s own 30th anniversary celebrations this year, along with the 100 years of MG and 75 years of Land Rover to name but a few, it has been especially busy with some vehicles coming and going each time I do a shift. As new vehicles arrive, there is more to read, more to learn and understand and this often leads on to me having to do more research to find out how, why, and when a car or model got to where it is today.
I for one look forward to each visit. I enjoy the ‘buzz’ of the Museum seeing what is new, seeing what is in the Workshop, hearing the sound of some of the engines, finding out what my colleagues have been up to - even just walking across the car park can be a little classic car show on its own. I’m aware of some of the positive changes ahead at the Museum and they sound exciting. I’m looking forward to being part of these changes too.
Oh, and the bacon rolls and cookies in the café are superb!
Anton Jenkins, Volunteer