Our fantastic volunteers contributed a record-breaking 49,614 hours in 2016!
The total amount of hours is a staggering 4,000 increase on the previous year and now we have over 500 volunteers assisting in various roles across the museum.
Janette Gales, Volunteer and Access Co-ordinator, said: “As a recent addition to the Volunteer Team, I’m humbled and overwhelmed by the amount of time our volunteers give to Beamish.
“From engagement to research, we have a wide range of volunteering roles and as a result have amassed a staggering 49,614 volunteering hours in 2016! An absolutely remarkable achievement and the museum appreciates every minute of time donated.
“These hours have enabled us to progress and continue with our vision at Beamish and this is reflected in our fantastic visitor numbers this year.
“The Volunteer Team and everyone at the museum would like to thank each and every volunteer for the time and effort they have given to support Beamish.”
Helen Crosby, 61, from Rowlands Gill, has volunteered at the museum for over a year. Having heard as a visitor that Beamish was carrying out research for a chemist’s and a photographers’ studio she got in touch.
She said: “I am a former pharmacist and I’m also very interested in the history of the profession. I called Beamish and asked about the research, told them about myself and they said I sounded like the right person for the job.”
Helen’s work behind the scenes was so brilliant that last year she was Highly Commended at the North East Museum Volunteer Awards 2016 in the Hidden Treasures category, for her work in helping to set up W Smith’s Chemist and JR & D Edis Photographers in The 1900s Town.
Helen now volunteers in costume in the Town and Pit Life Team and is based mainly in the chemist’s.
She said: “Everybody at Beamish is so friendly and welcoming, it’s as though you’ve known them for years.
“Volunteering keeps your mind active and saves you festering around at home. Plus I get to meet lots of different visitors and staff. I really look forward to coming in to Beamish, meeting new people and sharing my knowledge.”
Helen, who took early retirement in 2008, believes that volunteers offer many opportunities to places like Beamish. She said: “Volunteers have a wide range of backgrounds and skills, they have lots of different outlooks which is an added bonus for the museum and enhances the visitor experience.”
Catherine Hambley, 64, from Washington, is one of our hard-working, behind-the-scenes volunteers. She said: “I come in once a week and assist the Volunteer Team with admin. We keep a list of all volunteers and I make sure it is kept updated and I input information from new volunteers. We then pass this information to the Friends.
“The work the Volunteer Team does is wonderful. I find that the staff here are incredibly welcoming. I always feel as though I belong, I now bring my grandchildren here.”
Catherine added: “I really like volunteering here as I used to teach history. Beamish is history in operation, it’s fascinating as the museum brings the past to life and inspires people to look at history in a new light.
“It really is living history and not just history on dry pages, you don’t realise you’re learning about the past. The staff and volunteers live and breathe Beamish, they’re fantastic.”
Catherine has volunteered at the museum for three years and retired as Programme Co-ordinator at Northumbria University last year.
She said she thinks volunteers are “absolutely important” to organisations like Beamish.