Nicole Gross [LONDON]

How did you first become a Volunteer at RAFM London and what was your original role?

I began volunteering at the London site in December 2015, working with Clare Paul (Education Officer) as a blogger following the development of the temporary First World War ‘Unwinding’ exhibition. Using original artefacts from the Museum’s collections as their inspiration, students from local schools and colleges came together to curate and produce the exhibition. With a background in the communications industry, and a keen interest in modern history, the blog seemed like the perfect opportunity to bring the two areas together.

What projects are you working on at the moment?

I’d always had an interest in the Archive sector and working with original objects from the Museum’s collection for ‘Unwinding’ confirmed that this was something I wanted to explore further. I arranged to meet Nina Hadaway (Archive, Library and Research Manager) to find out more about the Archives and Library Department and since April I have been volunteering with the team on a weekly basis. The work has ranged from handling new donations and learning about the accessioning process to helping with enquiries.
What has been the highlight of volunteering so far? Since I started volunteering with the Archives Department, one highlight has been meeting the family of Flt Lt John McCulloch who fl ew over from Australia to donate his log book to the Museum. After a long journey, and very little sleep, their fi rst port of call was the Museum where they were delighted to see and explore the Sunderland that he had fl own during the Second World War.

You’re currently working on an on-going cataloguing project – the papers of historian Vincent Orange. Can you tell us more about this?

Another project that I’m working on relates to the papers of Vincent Orange that were donated to the Museum after his death. A British-born historian, he moved to New Zealand in 1962 where he spent the rest of his years teaching and writing. It was his military biographies of RAF Commanders that he was best known for, including ‘Tedder: Quietly in Command’ (Routledge, April 2004). I’m currently going through the papers, which range from letters between Marshal of the RAF The Lord Tedder and his family, to military documents that demonstrate the impact of the RAF during the Second World War.

What would you say to someone thinking about joining the Museum as a Volunteer? What advice would you give?

The RAF Museum is a warm and friendly place to volunteer. There are a range of roles available, including some that potential volunteers may not have either heard of or considered, so it’s worth getting in touch with Rachel Ball (Volunteering Manager) to find out more. For someone thinking about joining the Museum as a Volunteer, I’d also suggest they consider whether or not they would want to interact with the public or rather be behind the scenes. Both are rewarding in their own way.