Sandra Soer [LONDON]

Why did you choose to become a volunteer at the RAF Museum and how long have you been part of the team?

I have been a volunteer since April 2015, I thoroughly enjoy it and hope I contribute to keeping the memories of the RAF alive for our visitors. Mum was a WAAF and plotter for Fighter Command then in Hut 3 at Bletchley Park. Dad was a G.I. in 9th USAAF and I had uncles in the Army and Navy. My grandmother told me of her visits to the Hendon weekends. Over the years I would visit often with mum, son, grandchildren and also in my teaching career, many pupils. We all loved the Museum.

Tell us about your role at the museum. I undertake Visitor Engagement in the Claude Grahame-White Factory.

I have gained much respect for this remarkable man and enjoy sharing his story and those of the early aircraft and brave pilots with our visitors. It is good to see children – and adults – enjoying the opportunity to try on the clothing from the Trolley! On Veterans’ Day I felt privileged to assist with the Spitfire cockpit experience. It was an excellent day and I look forward to more opportunities to assist.

You were one of the first of our volunteers to pass the training for the Visitor Engagement activities. What did this entail?

There was a very useful training day with Rachel Ball, London’s Volunteering Manager, involving lots of information and guidance on everything from Health and Safety through to the history of the Museum and a tour. There was a lot to learn and I did not have much knowledge of early aircraft and the history of Hendon but I was determined to remember it all and spent a lot of time memorising and researching. All the front of house staff were very helpful and supportive.

How has the training helped you in your role?

All the written material from the experienced volunteers was vital as was the information that was all given out on the training day. Meeting other volunteers and asking their advice and guidance was extremely helpful together with the ‘runs through’ with Alison and Vernon from the Museum’s Access and Learning Department. This enabled me to build up my confidence as I was very aware that some of our visitors would be real experts and have a lot of knowledge. All the staff in London are very supportive, friendly and helpful.

What aspects do you enjoy most about volunteering at the museum?

Meeting all the visitors and hopefully giving them an interesting and memorable time. I enjoy listening to their experiences and comparing stories. I enjoy the friendly atmosphere and the welcoming warmth from the staff. It has given me an opportunity to expand my knowledge and experience and this is on-going as every day I meet new people. I enjoy the variety and meeting people from many different backgrounds. I feel proud to be part of the continuing story of RAF Hendon.

Why should others consider volunteering at RAFM?

To keep the memories and history alive for future generations, to work in a friendly atmosphere and help to give our visitors a memorable experience. Gaining satisfaction from the tasks we do and feeling that we are contributing to something very worthwhile.