Ten o’clock Thursday morning, and it’s time to say hello to Chris at the reception desk and sign in for my volunteer duties in the Reading Room. I have volunteered in the Reading Room for ten years now. People from all over the UK and beyond come here to research the Royal Shakespeare Company archives and undertake local or family history study.
My work is varied and has included typing up the historic records for the Shakespeare Houses, Stratford-upon-Avon workhouse, and other local records. Over the last few years I have researched and catalogued articles from the Stratford Herald (a local newspaper) relating to World War I and helped with the research for a World War I exhibition in Hall’s Croft. I even got to enjoy the opening evening cocktail party! More recently, I worked with Collections Archivist James Ranahan researching the interesting items relating to Ireland held in the Trust’s archives for an ‘Irish in the Archives’ evening. I also attended a delightful St Patrick’s Day breakfast with two handsome Trust gentlemen in Birmingham. We were interviewed and photographed for an article in the Stratford Herald Focus magazine.
For me, the best part of volunteering is working with wonderful, knowledgeable, funny, and kind staff in the reading room and archives. I enjoy meeting the readers, and as I have undertaken a course in genealogy, helping them with family or local history queries. I have helped my local heritage group publish two books, something I doubt I would have had the confidence to do without the back up of volunteering for the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. I have even written the occasional blog post for Finding Shakespeare.
In my past career I have worked as a teacher and in a senior banking role. This volunteering role uses my skills to explain as a teacher and my marketing skills as a banker, but without the pressure of being in charge, having to phone the parents, or refuse requests for yet another loan!
Try volunteering, I am sure you will find it as rewarding as I do!
Find out more about volunteering at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.