11th February 2020
Dave Todd has volunteered for nine years after retiring; he has delivered a range of guided tours at Hull Maritime Museum and later on the Arctic Corsair.
I started volunteering in 2012 when I retired. I realised it was important to keep physically and mentally active and to that end I contacted CVS to see what they had to offer. I tried a number of opportunities but for one reason or another none of them suited.
The CVS mentioned, almost in passing, that Hull City Council were always looking for volunteers, I think they just wanted to see the back of me! They gave me the number and I contacted them and went for an interview and as the cliché goes “I never looked back” and have been volunteering with them ever since.
My first project was at the Ferens Art Gallery. They had come across a full guide kit, originally purchased to help partially sighted benefit from the artworks. Three of us, all volunteers, learned how to use them and introduced them for use by visitors.
Following that Tom asked me if I would develop tours around the Georgian Houses, High Street. They were not open to visitors at that time and Tom and his team wanted to know if there was an appetite for a museum covering this period. Although the museum building was structurally safe it did not meet the standards required for visitors to walk around freely so guided tours where required. I put together a provisional tour and had it approved (eventually) by Tom. Tom then recruited, from existing volunteers, a group of potential guides. I then trained them and set them to work guiding groups around the museum. I think we were successful because after around six months we had gathered sufficient data to indicate that there was a demand for such a museum.
I followed this with volunteering in the Maritime Museum introducing small groups of visitors to the museum, it’s buildings history both in on the inside and the outside explaining why the building was the shape it was (triangular) and why it had the cleverly designed integrated entrance steps.
The maritime ‘job’ finished in early 2016 so I went on, with two colleagues to develop the Hull Old Town audio guide together with printed version and photo galleries. All this can be accessed via www.visithull.org.uk
As well as the above, from early 2015 to its closure in 2018 I was a tour guide on the Arctic Corsair. Other then developing the website this was comfortably my favourite volunteering post. For this I have to thank Tom for his persistence over two or three years to get me to do it. (Thanks Tom)
The reason the Arctic Corsair guide opportunity was my favourite was because in my opinion it covered all the requirements of a good volunteering post. They included:
- A learning opportunity – although I have lived in and around Hull all my life I had had no real in depth knowledge of how the industry worked and the effect it had on the individuals directly concerned but most of all their families. This project obliged me to learn and understand this most important aspect of our heritage.
- I became a member of a team which developed such that despite the closure of the Arctic Corsair in 2018 we still meet up every first Wednesday of each month and to date none of the original members of the group have dropped out.
- Meeting the general public both local and visitors and being able to extol the virtues of the City and its heritage.
- Satisfying my own thespian needs – having the opportunity to perform!!!
The skills you need to volunteer are manifest. There are ‘backroom’ opportunities as well as ‘front of house’. For the sort of role I would take up, you need:
- Enthusiasm for the city’s past and its future.
- A pride in belonging to the city – even if, as in my case, you live in Willerby
- A willingness to learn, whether its core knowledge or interpretive skills
- An outgoing personality and a confidence in meeting new people
- A tolerance of the general public – in all its forms!!
I would recommend volunteering to anyone and everyone for both selfish and altruistic reasons, you are giving to the community but above all you are giving to yourself.
I equate this to my refereeing days someone once said to me “I think it’s great you’re putting something back into the game, I wish I had the time”. My reply “I don’t quite know what you mean, I’m doing it for me” and if that element isn’t there then don’t volunteer.
Dave Todd, Tour Guide volunteer