Jim Griffiths [COSFORD]

When did your interest in the RAF begin?

I have always been interested in aircraft, starting as a young boy during the Second World War when my friends and I used to carve blocks of balsa wood into something that approximated to the shape of the combatant aircraft of the day. I later became a Technical Apprentice at Boulton Paul Aircraft at Wolverhampton for five years, and this in turn led to a working relationship with several of the Museum’s exhibits. I flew a couple of times as an Observer in the Boulton Paul Balliol, I have fired guns from a gun turret similar to that in the War in the Air Hangar at Cosford, and worked on the Vickers Wellington bomber when Boulton Paul were converting them to training aircraft. After my National Service, in the RAF of course, I returned to Boulton Paul and worked in the Inspection Department checking powered flying controls units manufactured for various aircraft, including the Vulcan. One of my claims to fame is that I managed to ground the entire fleet of Vulcan bombers after finding an error in one of the units on test.

How long have you been a Volunteer and why did you decide to join?

Nineteen years ago, when I finally retired from work, I brought my grandson for a visit to the Cosford Museum and was amazed to find the Fun ‘n’ Flight section with its hands-on exhibits. About three weeks after the visit, there was an article in the local paper asking for people interested in volunteering at the Museum to make contact, and that, as they say, was that. My application was in the next day’s post with my C.V. and I was duly invited to become a Volunteer.

How has your role changed since you first started?

After several years as a Volunteer on Fun ‘n’ Flight, the Museum set up the Access and Learning Department and started to advertise guided tours of the Museum and so I applied for and duly became a Guide in addition to being an Explainer on Fun ‘n’ Flight. Some years ago, the Second World War became a subject in the primary schools’ education curriculum, and RAFM Cosford started doing oral history talks, and I was one of the volunteers invited to give talks to children on what it was like to be a child growing up in the war. Blackout experiences, rationing, entertainment, and bombing were all explained. There was always a gasp of horror when the children were told the sweet ration was 57 grams per week for an adult, and children got half of that. I show children what that was in real terms, and it is four chocolate éclairs per week.

What do you find most enjoyable about your role?

All three activity bases are enjoyable in different ways. When you are talking to a Year 6 pupil in Fun ‘n’ Flight and explaining why an ‘H’ girder is stronger but lighter than a fl at strip of the same width and the child suddenly grasps the concept I have a sense of achievement. Being a Tour Guide is enjoyable because it is often a two-way communication. You can virtually guarantee that you will end the day knowing something that you didn’t know when you started the tour which makes being a Volunteer satisfying.

Would you recommend being a Volunteer to others?

Being a Volunteer brings you into face to face contact with people from all walks of life and they all have a story to tell, and that is what makes being a ‘Front of House’ Volunteer so enjoyable. I can thoroughly recommend volunteering at the RAF Museum to anyone