"My retirement in 2015 coincided with the opening of the National Civil War Centre (NCWC) and it was fascinating to be in at the start of such an exciting venture. A power station engineer by profession, I was looking forward to finding more time to pursue my interest in history. I have engaged in many roles in my 5 years as a volunteer including welcoming visitors, acting as a room guide, leading Newark historical tours and supporting the curators in dismantling and installing new exhibitions. But it is my role as chair of the Volunteers’ Training and Social Group that I would like to briefly share.
The group was formed in August 2017 following an open meeting of volunteers in which we evaluated our experiences. Emerging from this discussion were requests for a greater social connection to the museum and a mechanism through which to identify and meet volunteer training needs. A committee of five people was formed and I became chair of the group. I liaise closely with the NCWC Operations Manager and members of the Friends of the NCWC so that the staff and other groups are aware of our activities and we can coordinate dates where possible. The committee meet monthly and more frequently if a need arises.
In the last three years we have organised a number of social and training opportunities and, wherever possible, we try to encourage the NCWC volunteers to offer a presentation on their interests and their own research studies. Below is a small selection:
• Monthly informal social evenings at a local hostelry in Newark. We regularly gather in a group of between 8 and 15 people. This gives us the opportunity to catch up over a drink or two!
• Tours of local points of historical significance, such as Shelford Church, Owlthorpe Church and Hawton Church. These tours, organised and sometimes led by volunteers, give an insight into some of the skirmishes and short sieges carried out during the Civil War.
• Tours of the NCWC resource centre which has offered us an insight into the role of the curators and the number of artefacts available to the NCWC.
• Presentations held in the NCWC. These have included:
The Battle of Stoke Fields 1487. Considered as the last major battle of the War of the Roses. Led by one of the curators, this also offered a visual presentation on the actual area of the battlefield at East Stoke, which is local to Newark.
The Timeshift Collections. A volunteer’s private collection of archaeological artefacts. This involved an open evening for volunteers to examine, handle and ask questions about the artefacts.
Life in Ice Age Newark. Another presentation offered by one of the volunteers of his experience involved in a local archaeological dig and their finds of a settlement in the Newark area about 14,000 years ago.
I thoroughly enjoy my time as a volunteer and this has been enhanced by the chance to develop my involvement in the museum. The Training and Social group has given me the opportunity to get to know more volunteers and to increase my knowledge of history and of this local area. I am always impressed by local knowledge, creativity and hidden talents of the volunteers. If you are a NCWC volunteer and have ideas for future events, or you could contribute or lead an event please let me know." - Mick, National Civil War Centre Volunteer and Chair of the Volunteers' Training and Social Group