Volunteers' Week 2022 | The Mary Rose
Volunteers' Week 2022
Volunteering | 06 Jun, 2022 | Guest Blog
My Volunteer Experience...

To celebrate Volunteers' Week 2022, we asked some of our volunteers why they volunteer, what they enjoy about it and what they get out of helping us run a world-class museum...

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Michael Nottage
Museum Volunteer

I volunteer because I was bitten by the volunteering bug volunteering at another museum; it was being able to participate in museum tasks, events and helping staff that bit me.

I enjoy answering visitor questions and listening to visitors who feel compelled to speak about their memories and visits. I also enjoy taking ownership and giving a talk at Barber Surgeon handling table. 

For me a standard day starts with a short natter with other volunteers, maybe over a tea or coffee as they arrive and ready themselves for the staff/volunteer daily briefing which brings us all up to date with what to expect and what will be happening during the day during which I will find out what is planned for me. When the museum opens I am in a gallery with 1-2 other volunteers making ourselves available to visitors giving answers, info, directions and reporting any issues to staff that may arise and have also get time for a morning tea break. Midday I will take my lunch break and be back in a Gallery making myself available to visitors, I may take ownership of a handling table if the opportunity arises, I’ve done this many times so I now take a back seat to allow new volunteers their chance. After an afternoon tea break I’m heading home later.  

Elena Vazzana
Museum Volunteer

My name is Elena Vazzana, I am a college student studying Level 3 Travel & Tourism.  I started volunteering at the Mary Rose in the autumn last year.  I have always been interested in history and in particular the Tudor times.  In 2015 I went on a school trip to Hampton Court and met Lesley Roanaldson, a tour guide there, who inspired me to become a historic tour guide. 

When I was at school, I then did work experience at the Haslemere Educational Museum and returned to Hampton Court to spend a day with Lesley to see behind the scenes at a historic palace.  The school I was at renovated and moved into Undershaw, the home of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in Surrey.  I had the opportunity to work with a team of volunteers who ran visits, events and exhibitions celebrating the house and the life of Conan Doyle.  I have also volunteered at Gilbert White’s House Museum in my village.

At the Mary Rose I have learnt even more about Tudor history, the ship and its conservation from fellow volunteers who dived on the wreck and have supported the museum for many years.  I have been on volunteer training with talks from Chris Dobbs, Alex Hildred and Eleanor Schofield, and have had the unique opportunity to get up close and personal to the ship itself.

I have helped with school groups, craft activities in the holidays, shadowing tours, working on the handling tables which allow visitors to touch objects from the Mary Rose and being a volunteer guide in the galleries.  I am enjoying it all and learning so much which brings to life what I am learning at college.

One of my proudest moments was getting my Mary Rose volunteer uniform.  I volunteer because my goal is to get a job in a historic setting when I finish college next year.

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Paul Goehlert
Museum Volunteer

Retirement. When the euphoria of not going to work every day dies down, many people are a bit lost how to fruitfully spend these long-anticipated days of leisure. Volunteering is a most fulfilling new pastime.

I joined the team of Mary Rose volunteers about five years ago knowing nothing much about the ship or its’ history. Since then, I've learned a lot, made new friends and enjoyed offering visitors either a short explanation or a guided tour. It's a privilege to be associated with a world-class museum. Something I look forward to every week.

Mick Hickey

Collections Volunteer

I've loved my time here interacting with all the different people, liaising with the dockyard artist, and get to know and learn about the Mary Rose artefacts, people involved over the years, and standing in the ship hall with the ship was amazing.

Henry Rothery
Museum Volunteer

I love history and have always been fascinated by the Mary Rose! I remember visiting when I was 8 or 9 and going into the old ship hall and peering through the mist of the sprays to catch a glimpse of such an amazingly old ship. I'd visited both the current and old museums many times, and had been thinking for a while that I wanted to get involved in some way. 

So, after lockdown I was looking for something new to do alongside my work so I decided to apply to volunteer. It's been a great chance to meet people, share the story story of the Mary Rose and her crew with visitors, and build my skills and confidence.  

Every time I volunteer, I learn something new.

This might be from chatting to a visitor who asks a question I haven't thought about before or someone who shares their memories of seeing the Mary Rose being raised almost 40 years ago. 

Sometimes, it's simply noticing an object in the collection for the first time and learning about it, so I have something new to share with visitors next time. I've been volunteering about a year now and this still happens regularly, and with 3,500 objects in the museum I hope this carries on for a while! 

I usually volunteer at the weekend so usually a fairly busy day of chatting to our visitors in the galleries to help bring the Mary Rose and her collection to life! Its nice to be able to answer visitor's questions, and sometimes there's the chance to give tours for visitors who choose to add on an extra experience to their visit.  There's also usually a chance to catch up with other volunteers and staff. There's a lovely community feel to the Mary Rose team - I've been made to feel very welcome.

I hadn't volunteered anywhere for a long time, but got back in to the habit during lockdown as a community volunteer helping people who couldn't go out with shopping etc. As COVID eased and this wound down, I decided to carry on volunteering and applied to join the team at the Mary Rose last summer. 

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Taryn Weaver
Collections Volunteer

I volunteer for two reasons; the first is to gain experience in a field that I want to build a career in, and the second is to learn more about different areas of history which I wouldn’t normally research. As a Collections Volunteer I help digitise the collection, primarily by scanning photographs. What I enjoy about volunteering at the Mary Rose is the atmosphere, the people, and the opportunity to see behind-the-scenes and learn not only the history of the ship but of the museum as well.  I have volunteered here for four and a half years and have loved it.

Jessica Willis
Collections Volunteer

I feel particularly attached to the Mary Rose Museum (it’s a truly special building, an almost perfect balance between form and function, and a space that could house nothing other than the Mary Rose ship), but there’s an excitement within me that spreads on a Monday, when I enter the dockyard and take a right rather than continuing onwards. I pass through the two brick pillars standing sentry, past the Porter’s Garden until, instead of that curious pitch-black oyster, I’m greeted by an unassuming front door. I walk through it, still shiny with paint, and ready myself for another day spent lost in the archives.  

I volunteer because I enjoy it, and because I continue to learn new things about the Mary Rose and her conservation with each visit. At the moment, I’m enjoying looking through the battered volumes of Archaeology of the Mary Rose and meeting all the fascinating, esoteric sailing terms that evolved from this island with salty edges. I like visiting the museum to see the artefacts anew, to identify them from their muddy excavation images, when their bodies were heavy with sediment. I like when we get a run of Tudor armaments records, as the bulbous hilt of a ballock dagger still makes me smile (and there are a lot in the collection). I’m also aware of the responsibility we have to make this unique archive accessible to the public, and I am proud that the collections volunteer team are assisting with this mammoth task.  

To date, we’ve digitised nearly 75,000 images, which is incredible. We begin the day by looking over any notes from the previous week and check through recent additions to the server. Currently, we’re primarily scanning 35mm film strips: we record the numbering of each image on a tracker sheet, carefully clean the strips and then mount them in their case. Scanning of 35mm often takes around 30 minutes, so during that time you continue to check through previous scans to ensure the images are clean and correctly rotated. I’ll then take a look through the Collections inhouse library in the remaining time. Once the strips are scanned, we check them for any contamination or skips, label them appropriately, rotate them, and then add them to the main server.  

Join our team!

Every day the Mary Rose museum receives hundreds of visitors. To make their visit as enjoyable as possible we need passionate people of all ages to share their knowledge of Tudor history and our collection, and you could be one of them!

Whether it’s helping with family workshops, delivering guided tour, assisting our education team with schools or answering questions for visitors, we have a wide range of roles available.