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Volunteers Week: Meet the Collections Volunteers

26 May 2023

Collections volunteers support a wide range of collections work including conservation, documentation, digitisation and research enquiries. Some of our volunteers had links to the operational Royal Dockyard, during their working lives, and many of the younger volunteers often use their experience with collections to develop careers in the heritage sector.

Let us introduce you to a few of our volunteers…

 

Paul Severns

Tell us a bit about yourself!

I am Paul Severns and I volunteer both for the Trust and the RNLI. I have been a collections volunteer for four years now and have spent the past few years working on Des Pawson’s rope collection; cleaning, labelling, and cataloguing the objects as they have come into the conservation laboratory in several batches. I also work closely with another volunteer, Ian, to digitise this whole collection.

What do you enjoy the most about volunteering at the dockyard?

I really enjoy being able to work with the other volunteers from all walks of life!

 

 

 Tony Peacock

Tell us a bit about yourself!

My name is Tony Peacock, I am a digital engagement volunteer within the collections volunteers team and I also help to man the reading room. My Dockyard apprenticeship has come in handy when it comes to research enquiries!

My volunteer journey here started in 2016 when I was still working with the visitor experience team and during the closed season I was enticed, by the collections team at the time, to help with the audit of the hand tools collection. The following closed season I helped with an audit of the Dockyard signs and then became involved in the set up of the new Reading Room.

I’m currently working on a research enquiry regarding a royal visit but I am usually working on the next Warship Wednesday blog or content for the Dockyard daily history series ‘On This Day’ which the marketing team use to illustrate posts on social media.

What do you enjoy most about volunteering at the Dockyard?

I enjoy being with like-minded people and still learning so much about Dockyard history even after all these years!

 

John De Rose

Tell us a bit about yourself!

My name is John De Rose and I am a Reading Room Steward within the collections team volunteers, I also volunteer with the Learning team. I started volunteering in 2014, with the Learning team and then started as a collections volunteer in 2016 assisting with the library audit. I am also Membership Secretary of the Chatham Dockyard Historical Society (another volunteer group at the Dockyard).

I am still working on the Reading Room documentation (after 4 years – it’s a long process!) I also help process new book donations when they come in – adding them to the collections management system and finding a space for them on the shelves.

What do you enjoy most about volunteering at the Dockyard?

I enjoy working with school parties and looking after the books.

 

From left: Kirsty-Louise Spicer, Lucy Giles, and Samuel Bartholomew

Who are you?

We are all conservation volunteers and honestly, we do a little bit of everything, from working with the collections in No.3 Slip to conservation laboratory work. We all started volunteering at the dockyard in early 2023, so we have basically become a bit of a volunteer trio and do a lot of the work here together! Lately, we have been helping with the very extensive work of cleaning a ship model under supervision of a member of the Collections Department. Our next large project will be to assist the large conservation project of the cannons in No.3 Slip!

What do you enjoy most about volunteering at the Dockyard?

Kirsty-Louise: I really like that I get to learn a lot of new skills and interacting with people who share the same interests as me!

Lucy: I enjoy everything from learning new skills to meeting new people!

Samuel: I really like getting hands on with the objects in the dockyard’s collection. The best way to learn more about history is to actually work close to them!

 

Gillian White

Tell us a bit about yourself!

I joined the Trust in October 2022 as a volunteer with the Collections Department.  My current role is cataloguing artefacts that have been purchased or donated to the Trust. I also provide some administration support for the Curating for Change Co-Production Volunteer Group which if focusing on uncovering disability stories from the dockyard’s history.

What do you enjoy most about volunteering at the Dockyard?

CHDT is a very interesting place to volunteer and there are many various opportunities across the site to get involved with.

 

 

Gerald Cadwallader

Tell us a bit about yourself

My name is Gerald Cadwallader and I am a retired teacher. My first ever school trip, some 44 years ago, was to the Dockyard and, throughout my teaching career, I continued to bring children to visit the Dockyard on a fairly regular basis.

After I retired in 2018, I started volunteering at the Dockyard soon after, helping with the setting up of the new Reading Room and then joining the Learning Team soon after.

Currently I am working on documentation for the collections team, specifically new and existing books and journals in the Reading Room. As a Learning Team volunteer, my role is to support the Learning Facilitators and chaperone the children, on school visits, around the site.

What do you enjoy most about volunteering at the Dockyard?

I enjoy interacting with the children and no longer having the responsibilities of organising the trips! I have also enjoyed watching the evolution of the Reading Room and playing an active role in that.

Pat Singleton

Tell us a bit about yourself

I currently work on the art audit project which involves cataloguing and digitising artworks, photographs and documents then linking them to the collections catalogue. Some of these items will then be made accessible to view online for the public.

What do you enjoy most about volunteering at the Dockyard?

Being involved in a very small way with recording the long and very interesting history of the dockyard and all the people who worked here over the years. Making this a ‘living’ history and not just a collection of artefacts is very rewarding.

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