Wonderland

For Volunteers’ Week, work placement student Lauren has written about her experiences volunteering at Quarry Bank.

I have been a volunteer at Quarry Bank for over a year now, and I am currently on work placement as part of my university degree. I’m working alongside Project Co-ordinator Emma Armstrong, and I have gained valuable work experience in marketing, and important knowledge in British History. As it is Volunteers’ Week I wanted to share why I volunteer at Quarry Bank, at a place that I call…..Wonderland!

Wonderland for Alice, in Lewis Carroll’s novel, is an exciting, whimsical and enchanting place with a story behind each and every door. Although I haven’t met the Cheshire Cat, I have met a Cheshire gem, as volunteering at Quarry Bank has immersed me into a world rich in life, history and culture.

Volunteering has meant that I have been involved in an array of different events across the year, and my most memorable moment was last Christmas; as I wore a traditional Victorian dress. On the day I floated around the exhibition gallery engaging with visitors and sharing the Christmas story. The number of hooped underskirts, and the length of the dress, was not my usual attire, and by the end of the day I learnt not only valuable work skills, but also that Victorian women, just like us, suffered for fashion!

Each opportunity I have had at Quarry Bank, whether that be working with the family activities, learning about events, or dressing up, has allowed me to enter a wonderland, where history comes alive. The enthusiasm and work ethic of all the volunteers has become infectious, and each volunteer that I have met is unquestionably a valuable member of the team.

christmas at quarry bank
Lauren dressed up for a Victorian Christmas in 2015
me and danika at christmas
Lauren with Danika, who volunteers in the Quarry Bank archive

All the volunteers that I have met share my enthusiasm for Quarry  Bank and here is what they had to say:

‘It is a privilege being allowed behind the scenes’ – Danika Lloyd

‘You meet lots of lovely people’ – Carolyn Yardley

‘It is a great way to make friends and nice being part of a big organisation’ – Janet England

‘Volunteering is a brilliant way to help preserve our country and buildings, and you seem to be much more appreciated than any other organisation I have worked with’ – Gillian Marsh

As part of my work placement I was also fortunate enough to be able to do my own independent research in the archives.

The archives are an extensive collection of artefacts, letters and objects from the Greg family and workers. Currently the Quarry Bank team are in the process of cataloguing the archive and will begin capturing digital images of everything in the collection, a process which is called digitisation. This will make it easier to discover new stories, and give visitors a better understanding of Quarry Bank’s history. So far the Archives and Collections team, which includes a number of volunteers, has catalogued over 5,000 items and have thousands more to go.

As an English Literature student the Greg ‘Family Album,’ which contains an array of poems written by the family, particularly took my interest from the archive. I found that the poems had an uncanny resemblance to many Romantic poets’ work, and as a result I collected my findings into a drafted essay. I owe a lot of thanks to Emma Armstrong, Emma Richmond and Angharad Gwilym, for my time at Quarry Bank, and allowing me to explore the archive and the fascinating lives of the Greg family.

To read my findings, please click here: Research Essay-Family Album-LaurenDavies.

Volunteering can be a great way to learn new things. You can develop your work skills, gain new friends, and a new perspective on the National Trust and British heritage sites. Each day is different and an opportunity to develop yourself.

In the words of Alice, there is “no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.”

To find out more about how we’re celebrating our volunteers, search #volunteersweek on Facebook or Twitter. If you would like to volunteer with us, then visit our website and search ‘Wilmslow’ to find our latest opportunities. 

 

 

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