Stuart Collins [COSFORD]

Please tell us about your role as a volunteer at RAFM Cosford?

My role as a volunteer is to help preserve the exhibits so that visitors to the Museum can learn about the history of the RAF and to help share the stories and experiences of former and currently serving military personnel. I do this by serving within a dedicated team of volunteers (some of who are ex-military themselves) working on the aircraft to make sure they are both visually and mechanically in original condition for being displayed in the Museum.

How long have you been a volunteer?

I am still relatively a new member of the volunteer team having only been here for just over a year having started back in November of 2015. I am also one of the youngest in the team of volunteers but plan on being here for many years to come.

What first motivated you to join the team?

My grandparents are both ex-service RAF, I spent most of my younger days travelling to airshows with my granddad and he would tell me about the aircraft and about his life within the military. At that young age I knew from then that I wanted to work on or near aircraft. When I heard a few years back about the RAF Museum running a volunteer work scheme, I knew that was where I wanted to start so I got in contact with the Volunteer Department, signed up and here I am today.

You mentioned that your role varies day to day, what has been the favourite project you’ve worked on and why?

So far to date I would have to say my favourite project to work on has been the Museum’s Consolidated PBY-6A Catalina. I helped out the team on a couple of occasions get this aircraft weather-proofed for external display. It was quite interesting talking to the other team members about the tasks required and then helping to complete these tasks.

What is your favourite exhibition at RAFM Cosford and why?

I can say with a lot of joy that my favourite exhibition is the Vickers VC-10 aircraft we have on external display. The reason being is because I saw this very aircraft with its splendid tail anniversary markings a short time before the aircraft left the RAF when I was down at Fairford, a few years back, watching it arrive for static display at the airshow. After it had left the RAF I kept accessing the internet looking for any clue as to if the aircraft would be saved to have a second life as a museum exhibit.

Would you recommend volunteering at RAFM Cosford to others?

I would have to say yes to this, I have only been here a short amount of time compared to the rest of the team but they have made sure I am part of the team. I have no military service background but here that doesn’t matter as long as you get on in a team environment and enjoy being around these great icons of aviation – then the RAF Museum is great place to volunteer.