The benefits of volunteering are being extolled by the team at Newton Abbot Museum who are busy gearing up for the opening of their new site.
The museum’s current location in Devon Square is inadequate to successfully display the many thousands of artefacts in the collection. The building also offers poor access and is tucked away in a part of town some people struggle to find. However, within just a few months all that will change with the opening of Newton’s Place, the £2.2 million project to convert the former St Leonard’s Church in Wolborough Street.
The town centre location will be much larger and fully accessible as well delivering flexible community spaces and offices for the town council. Opening times will be extended and there will be new ways to explore the town’s history, through maps, images and child-friendly fun. Admission will remain free of charge.
The New Year opening will also deliver opportunities for volunteers wanting to widen their social network or boost CVs. "The benefits of volunteering shouldn’t be underestimated," said curator Felicity Cole.
"Becoming part of our friendly team can make such a difference to the quality of life. We’re not looking for history experts, just people with a friendly manner. Opportunities include stewarding and meeting the public, supporting events and exhibitions, cataloguing objects and historic research. Training, friendship and laughter are all provided, as are tea and biscuits."
For anyone thinking about volunteering but perhaps lacking confidence Felicity has an idea. "Why not bring a friend?" she said. "We also operate a ‘buddy’ system for new volunteers who can work side by side with someone more experienced. Volunteering can be so rewarding, whether you’re looking to boost skills, enhance a CV or find new people to spend time with.
I know from experience that lives have been changed by taking part. What’s more we’re flexible and open to ideas. Many of our volunteers have been with us for years now so I guess we must be doing something right. Perhaps you need us as much as we need you, it’s a great partnership waiting to happen."
The photo shows the St Leonard's Tower volunteer team as the Tower opened for its new season on Wednesdays 10am - 1pm until September (free admission).