Meet the Volunteers - Tony Green
In the Museum | 05 Jun, 2018 | Guest Blog
Tony Green - Volunteer guide

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

Today we meet Tony Green, a volunteer who works in our museum and learning centre.

Why do you volunteer?

"After I retired, I needed to do something that would give me a purpose to the week, be a ‘time marker’ in the week and offer me new and stimulating challenges and interests. I also wanted to reignite the interest I had in history when I was younger, which was sidelined during my career. Initially, I volunteered for just one day a week at the museum. However, one day a week soon increased as I caught the ‘Mary Rose bug’. Every day that I am at the museum is enjoyable, interesting and challenging. I also have no doubt that volunteering also contributes to my health and well-being."

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

"There are so many aspects to volunteering I enjoy, that it is impossible for me to list them all. It is a privilege to be a volunteer at such a prestigious museum. It is a pleasure to engage with visitors and to talk to them about the magnificent ship and the astonishing artefacts. Sharing the enjoyment of visitors and knowing that I have helped enhance their experience is constantly uplifting. I never tire of hearing the positive comments of visitors when they first see the ship. Some are moved to tears of emotion as they connect so strongly with the ship. I enjoy meeting new people. The range of ages and interests amongst volunteers and staff, results in a strong ‘family’ atmosphere. Through volunteering, I have made new friends who have a common interest. The museum has given me many new opportunities."

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

"My day starts with an uplifting walk, especially on a sunny day, through the dockyard, passing the historical ships and buildings. At the museum I change into my Tudor costume and then attend the morning briefing before engaging with visitors on the ‘decks’. We meet visitors from all over the world. Throughout the day, I talk to individuals, families, small groups, maybe a coach or cruise party. One minute I can be chatting to a child aged five and the next minute to an adult aged 95.

However, my day can also include welcoming visitors at the dockyard gate or driving them to the museum in our buggy. I might lead an adult group on a headset tour, guide a family visiting for a birthday celebration or demonstrate to a class of enthusiastic seven year olds how to fire a Tudor cannon. My ‘standard’ day can be very varied and is never dull."

Do you volunteer anywhere else?

"I find the days I spend at the museum more than fills my week. As a volunteer I agreed to one day a week at the museum. This is the typical commitment for many volunteers. However, coming from an education background, my days increase to two or three to help with events or to teach in the multi-award winning learning centre."

What would you say to anyone thinking about volunteering?

"I am often asked about volunteering and I emphatically recommend it. There is no need to worry if you know very little to begin with. It is about being positive, taking an interest, being open-minded and enjoying the experience. I was out of my comfort zone when I started as a volunteer. I had no knowledge of the Mary Rose but I knew it was where I wanted to volunteer. Thanks to a ‘buddying’ system, supportive volunteers and staff, and informative and enjoyable winter talks by the museum experts, I now engage with visitors with knowledge and confidence. It is not possible to know everything and visitors respect an ‘I don’t know but I will find out’ reply to a question. Subject knowledge comes over time. Every day I learn something new. Volunteering is a very socialable and enjoyable activity, where new friendships are made. Go for it!"

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

"I always have fun at the museum. I also enjoy the additional opportunities. I have stood on the battlements of Southsea Castle, where Henry VIII stood, giving talks about the sinking of the Mary Rose. I have walked through the City of London in costume, as part of the annual Lord Mayor's Show, and I have enjoyed promoting the museum at the ‘Victorious’ music festival. I have demonstrated cooking in our replica galley. I can now talk to visitors about cooking from my first-hand experience. I thoroughly enjoyed the organised visits to, for example, Hampton Court, Stratford-Upon-Avon, the Cutty Sark, Chatham, and the Vasa in Stockholm. There are far too many ‘extras’ to list. However, one of my most stunning/emotional experiences has been to stand in the ship hall, just a fingertip away from the Mary Rose."