Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Fair Maid's House - A Volunteer's Story

Being retired for a few years and not really having a focus, when I saw the request for volunteers for the Fair Maid's House, I thought that might be an idea of something useful to do for the summer.

I didn't know much about RSGS, so went onto the web to find out a bit more. That got me even more interested. I have always been interested in geography and maps, since the National Geographic magazine came in the post when I was quite a small child in the 1950s, and when it was a map month that was even more exciting, especially if it was of the UK and you knew the places on it. I certainly would not class myself as a geographer, just an interested person.

Travel has been a big part of my life after being widowed in my forties. I decided that I had to see a bit of the world before I was too old to really enjoy the travel. Highlights have been trips to the west coast of America and Hawaii, the Canadian Rockies, a recent visit to Singapore and, with my work, a year on secondment to Oman.

The Fair Maid's House has some fantastic exhibits.

So – a visit to speak to Fiona, and a volunteers information session, and I was ready to go!

 When we opened in April, it was still quite cold and sometimes snowy, but it was the Easter holidays and we had a steady stream of visitors. Some visitors want to just look around on their own. Others are quite happy for you to tell them stories about the displays. In the beginning I don't think my stories were very accurate, but after being on with some more experienced volunteers they improved over time. You keep finding out more all the time. There were times when it would have been nice to have had more visitors, but unless you move the Concert Hall so as we can be seen, I am not sure how that can be changed. The photographic display during the summer months made us busier and let people experience the house as well. Lots of visitors say they will be back.

The highlights of volunteering are the people – the staff of RSGS, the other volunteers, and of course the visitors. People really love to share their experiences with you – where they live, where they have visited, and lots of times the fact that they knew the Fair Maid's House in the past. Visitors have come from all over the world. One amusing story was the group of young locals who put their heads round the door and asked if they could come in. They went round and were asked to sign the visitors book. The result was that, in amongst the “very interesting” and the “excellent”, there is now the comment “BEAST”, which apparently means “very good” in young speak.

Will I do it again? Of course I will. Roll on April 2013. Will you join us?

If you are interested in volunteering in the Fair Maid’s House during 2013, please contact Fiona Parker on 01738 455050 or email fiona.parker@rsgs.org.