What is your role with the RAF Museum’s team of volunteers?
I have been working as a Tour Guide for four years now. I deliver around three tours a month as well as two special tours which are with groups that have pre-booked a special interest tour. My tour usually lasts around an hour and a half which gives me plenty of time to give a clear picture of the artefacts on display as well as wider stories from this time. I feel that I have a personal connection with the collection as my parents had lived in Berlin but left at the beginning of the Second World War. I have since been back to Berlin to research further the fate of both sets of my grandparents who stayed behind. I am hoping to have a pair of “stolperstein”, a concrete cube bearing a brass plate dedicated to victims of Nazi extermination, made for my grandparents who all lost their lives during this time.
Why did you choose to join our volunteer team and how did you find the training?
I had originally joined the Imperial War Museum as a volunteer and was there for three years but I started to find the journey to and from the museum too difficult so I got in touch with the RAF Museum and enquired about roles it had available. I trained by shadowing other tour guides for around six weeks before I was tested though a mock tour with a staff member. Training successfully completed I was able to start giving tours to the public. I very much enjoyed the training and was pleased with all the support I was given before starting my own tours.
What about the Museum collection interests you most?
I find the Museum’s Second World War aircraft collection more interesting than anything else. When I was 15 I had appendicitis and during those days that meant that I had to stay at home for three weeks to rest. My doctor at the time, who I am still friends with, brought me an Airfix Kit to keep me entertained, and from that moment on I was hooked – both with model making and the history of the aircraft. The same doctor would accompany me to air shows at Duxford, I would drive and he would pay for me to get in. A couple of years ago I was lucky enough to bring him to the Museum as my guest at the Volunteer Awards Evening and we had a fantastic evening.
What do you enjoy most about volunteering with the Museum?
Overall I’m delighted to be able to be doing something which I enjoy so much. I love meeting new people and I have learnt much, both from volunteering at the Museum and spending time carrying out further research. I love imparting this knowledge on to others. The stories that visitors tell me about their experiences are always very interesting. I often meet people who have flown planes within our collection and being able to talk to these people about their own experiences helps me to improve my understanding and knowledge of the collection even further.
What do you think about London’s RAF Centenary Programme?
Maggie Appleton recently gave a wonderful speech to the volunteers about the plans of the Museum’s RAF Centenary Programme. The plans look fantastic and I’m very enthusiastic about the changes to the site. I hope I am still able to give tours of the new exhibitions as I’ll be able to cover even more subjects about the RAF, both its history and its future.