Meet the Volunteers - Maggie Beel
In the Museum | 06 Jun, 2018 | Guest Blog
Maggie Beel - Volunteer guide

To celebrate Volunteers Week 2018, we've asked our volunteers to share their experiences of volunteering with our visitors.

Today we meet Maggie Beel, a volunteer who works in our museum and at the visitor entrance to the dockyard..

Why do you volunteer?

"I have a bucket list I put together of 100 things I wanted to do after retiring, and working as a tour guide was one of them. It is lovely after working 42 years, 60 hours a week, to do something very different that is so rewarding and such fun. I wanted to volunteer somewhere where you feel you add value to the organisation. The Mary Rose volunteers are from a wide spectrum of backgrounds and regardless of age, experience and ability we are all made to feel we are part of the team at the Mary Rose."

What do you enjoy most about volunteering at the Mary Rose?

"The museum is 'awesome' and I've chosen that term carefully. It describes the building, the atmosphere, and how empathetically the artefacts and the ship herself are displayed.

However my historical knowledge is rather sketchy but one of the wonderful aspects about being a volunteer is the range of training opportunities. I've only been volunteering since November and during that time I've had fascinating talks from an archaeological scientist, and other experts; been on a two day outing to visit Tudor places of historical interest and visited the Mary Rose conservation building to look at the rest of the collection in preservation. It has become a new hobby to increase my knowledge about the Tudor period. The support of other volunteers is exceptional and they are so willing to give you information and facts so you gradually gain the confidence to support and enhance the experience of our visitors. I also love the camaraderie of the volunteers, the generosity of the keen bakers who bring in their weekly cookery projects!  Especially Rogers American peanut cake!"

What does a standard day volunteering at the Mary Rose involve?

"There isn't a standard day volunteering at the Mary Rose. The rota ensures you work in all the galleries across the day and there are plenty of breaks for coffee and lunch when you need them. It is the diversity of the visitors that make each day different. School groups, visiting groups of surgeons, archers etc. as well as a range of visitors from other countries all come to see the Mary Rose, so there are opportunities for volunteers to learn from visitors, or try to communicate in another language for example French. You never know who you are going to meet during a standard day at the Mary Rose.

Volunteers are encouraged to support educational groups visiting, to dress in Tudor costume if they so wish, or to work on the hands on artefact tables, or meet and greet visitors on the Dockyard entrance. There are so many event days in the Museum; very recently the 'Cooking for the ship’s crew on a Tudor Galley', a Lego event, Tudor arts and crafts. Whatever your passion you are encouraged to join in, learn and enjoy!."

Do you volunteer anywhere else?

"Volunteering is about trying to be useful and help make a difference. So I also joined the altzeimers Society as an activities coordinator. This was a different role but once again an opportunity to meet people and help out."

What would you say to anyone thinking about volunteering?

"You do not have to be a history buff or an academic to volunteer at the museum. If you enjoy meeting people and have a positive attitude then the Mary Rose is a great place to volunteer. You learn at your own pace and it certainly keeps the brain cells active. You find out the most incredible facts about that fateful day in history, and it's such a fascinating story it's surprising how much you remember. I say it's a privilege to work in one of the UK’s most unique museums. Once you enlist, you are hooked...come on board!"

Do you have any fun/funny stories about volunteering you could tell us about?

"Our visitors provide us with some amusing comments, such as a lady from Alabama who said, "don't you think they'd have learnt a thing or two from the Titanic and had more lifeboats?"

And this week on the main gate I was asked, “Where can I purchase a ticket for a harbour tour on the Mary Rose?"

Err...sorry the last harbour tour on the Mary Rose left 473 years ago!"