Volunteers have been incredibly important to the Museum for many years. They have helped with research, exhibitions, archiving and education to name just a few of the projects.
Over the past few months, volunteers have been a vital part of the packing process at the Museum. Since April, an additional 12 volunteers joined us in the mammoth task of packing up the numerous objects which we have on display and in storage. Training them in the early days, it has been an absolute joy getting to know each one of them and seeing them grow in confidence. They are now aware of various conservation issues including approaching me with items possibly affected by pest damage.
There have been several occasions when we have come across something truly remarkable in the collection. I remember the day that our volunteer, Reg, came across an extremely ornate presentation piece containing several tools and apprentice pieces. He kept looking at it, admiring its craftsmanship.
Another time I remember was when our volunteer Paul marveled at the weird and wonderful things which we had in the collection, such as a tub of grease and ear defenders which were donated by a workshop.
I can honestly say that the staff and volunteers have enjoyed looking through and packing the variety of objects which we have, and learning about the breadth of REME’s involvement in various campaigns and countries.
Tuesday the 11th August was a momentous occasion where we saw the last item, a workshop shovel, being packed by our volunteer Ida. This was also the day when we packed our ship’s wheel found in Salerno. The item was packed so well that the shape of the object is still obvious despite the layers of conservation materials!
As we laid the last item on the pile of objects packed that day, there were mixed feelings of relief and sadness that the giant task of preparing the collection for transport was now complete.
Wednesday saw us celebrating this achievement with a barbecue in the Museum grounds. The weather was kind as we enjoyed the heat and company of those around us. Talking over sausages and burgers, we reminisced about fun times and our plans for the future.
My heartfelt thanks goes out to all the wonderful volunteers who gave up their time to help the Museum with this next stage in moving to Lyneham. I am confident that the objects will be safe in transit and we look forward to unwrapping them at the other end.
Juliet Turk – Assistant Curator