Why did you decide to volunteer at the Royal Air Force Museum?
The Royal Air Force Museum has always been my favourite museum. I would continually travel on long tube journeys to visit whilst I was still at school, so when I started looking for part-time work at university, I looked on the RAFM website. When I saw the opportunity to volunteer as a tour guide for the new First World War Exhibition, I decided to apply. Turns out, I didn’t really mind if I got paid or not. I enjoy helping out!
I believe you recently assisted at the Spitfire Experience, what was that experience like?
It was really fun! I met a lot of people, heard a lot of stories and had a laugh with my co-workers. I think one of the best things about volunteering in the RAF Museum is that I can talk to people of all different backgrounds and generations, and still get along with them. It was the first time I’d ever worked with a group of people who were not only interested in what they were doing, but actually wanted to be there too!
I also believe that you’ve been learning all about our First World War in the Exhibition. Could you explain why?
As I mentioned before, I initially started volunteering at the RAF Museum with the intention of being a tour guide for the First World War in the Air Exhibition. After the initial training, I was given lots of information about all the things within the Exhibition! Not many people know about First World War aircraft, so it was a bit daunting at first, but you get a great deal of support as a volunteer here. It’s all about studying up, practicing and confidence!
What do you hope visitors will learn exploring The First World War in the Air with you? I hope they learn that although The First World War did not use aircraft as much as the Second World War did, it saw the birth of the Royal Air Force and catalysed its invention. The point of the Exhibition is to show that ‘he who controls the air, controls the battlefield’, so I hope to expand upon that too. Also to give Claude GrahameWhite a bit more of the publicity that he deserves!
What is your favourite part of the exhibition? Could you let us know why?
I don’t have a single favourite part, but I like the thank you letter written by George V to the RAF and the Sopwith Triplane. And the Coudron G.3. And the interrupter gear mechanism. All the pictures really capture the atmosphere of the old factory too, and I like the fact that most of the original 1912 structure is still there. Usually I help with the Airfix Make and Take, where I help children make model aeroplanes – so it is nice to see some of the models that I have helped build in real life too!
What would you advise someone thinking of volunteering?
I say go for it! Definitely! Why not? The volunteers and permanent staff that I come into contact with are really lovely people, with a genuine interest and passion for the museum and its aircraft.
Click here to hear from Maria about her experience when she visited our Archive and Library and Research department.