Tag Archives: Volunteering

The Twine of Our Lives

IMG_1686 1Staff and Volunteers enjoyed a memorable visit to Dawe’s Twine Works and the Coker Rope and Sail Trust at West Coker, near Yeovil, Somerset on Wednesday 20th June 2018.

Ross Aitken and his helpers provided a warm welcome and insightful guided tour.

This was the first time most volunteers had visited the site, which featured on the BBC’s Restoration Village series of programmes.

We were shown the workings of the Twine Works and learnt of its wider significance to the local, national and international community. The 1927 Shanks Oil engine was just one of the highlights.

Visitors are welcome on the fourth Saturday of every month – 10am – 4pm and at other times by appointment.

West end of West Coker BA22 9AU

The Heritage Lottery Fund is funding completion of Dawe’s restoration.




Why I Volunteer

This week we reflect on volunteering through our Volunteer Co-Ordinator.

There are various reasons why I decided to volunteer after I retired; to meet new people; be involved in a subject I am interested in and doing something completely different.

The completely different one is parkrun; a 5k run every Saturday morning around the parkland of a National Trust House. Before we get carried away, I don’t run; I marshal, time keep, give out tokens and keep a check that everything is going smoothly. My daughter and grandchildren in Edinburgh are the ‘fit family.’ They run, swim, cycle and take part in their nearest parkrun. Being involved in my local park run makes me feel close to her for an hour or so every Saturday morning. With my daughter living in Scotland, perhaps you can understand why I feel closer to her.

Volunteering number 2 – I am a tour guide at the above National Trust house. I take people around the outside of the house and for 50 minutes give them a condensed history of the house and its occupants. This is where my love of history and amateur dramatics comes into its own.

Volunteering number 3 – An active steward at a local museum. Again, this involves meeting people and sharing knowledge of the town, our artefacts and the enthusiasm of our collectors.

Volunteering number 4 –Volunteer Co-ordinator at CHAC

(Community Heritage Access Centre).

Here I am involved with accessioning artefacts, which can be both objects and photographs. I spent nearly two years accessioning documents from a local clergyman, which covered all his life, from school reports to sermons, family photographs and much more. I found this fascinating and it gave me a real insight into the life of a very interesting man. I work with a team of six others, who all have their own speciality, i.e. costume, paintings etc. We work extremely well as a team and are always on hand to answer questions and help each other.

Volunteering is a wonderful way of spending time; I look forward to all my duties and would recommend volunteering to everyone.


A page from the clergyman’s family Ledger – His family owned a bakery in Hendford, Yeovil.

Fit for a Queen

We have enjoyed a busy and involving week since our last post from South Somerset District Council’s Community Heritage Access Centre.

This week’s highlights have included items that were on loan to Bruton Museum, returning to CHAC, including a chemise that we understand was worn by Queen Victoria. Our volunteers enjoyed the process of checking the items against the carefully prepared condition reports, making note of any observations in terms of condition and points for future checking and then placing the objects back in their permanent location, for staff to update the object’s record on our database.

The Know Your Place Project is reaching the Public Exhibition stage and we are assisting with the text from our Yeovil contributions on Gloving and Wyndham Hill.

We will also be preparing our next display for Yeovil Library Window, due to be ready by Wednesday 2nd November 2016 and also accessioned a fascinating photograph of Huish, Yeovil, showing Queen Street, which we hope to have ready for the BLOG next time.

We have also received a request to help with a display at Ninesprings Café in Yeovil with illustrations of Ninesprings and any background information.

Celebrating Yeovil 2017 Calendar is now available.

More images of our Volunteer Visit on 10th October 2016 – this time Crewkerne Museum. Crewkerne Museum can be contacted on (01460) 77079.



A Friendly Foundation

A busy and well travelled week since our last posting from South Somerset District Council’s Community Heritage Access Centre, (CHAC) Yeovil.

On Thursday 1st October 2015, staff and our Volunteer Co-Ordinator enjoyed a journey to the Gold Hill Museum, Shaftesbury, Dorset. The Museum was hosting a course entitled “Building and Maintaining a Volunteer Team” organised by the South West Federation for Museums. Many south west Museums and Heritage Sites were represented including Coleton Fishacre, near Torquay, Devon and Beaminster Museum in Dorset. We soon became aware of how vital volunteers are to some Museums, as one near Bath needed 42 volunteers across the week just to open their doors to the public.

At CHAC, our volunteers help us to document our accessioning backlog and thankfully, new items that are donated by members of the public. We soon realized this was a little different to most of the museums represented on the course, where ‘front of house’ and ‘stewarding’ duties are key. The course was useful to suggest different projects for our CHAC volunteers, where the documentation and ‘form filling’ although crucial to what we do, can be become monotonous. One idea was to create a display for our regular library window slot, based on a particular archive and a printed CHAC Newsletter – both prepared by volunteers – thus giving them a new task and taking responsibility for this, whilst also freeing up staff time to complete other tasks.

On Tuesday 6th October 2105, we provided an illustrated talk to the Fivehead Local History Forum, between Langport and Taunton. This was particularly useful as we were able to add new information to an existing object. When we give a talk to a group in South Somerset, we always like to find a connection to the location in our CHAC collection. In Fivehead’s case, we pass something from the village everyday, when we do our guided tours. This is a collection of Friendly Society pole head emblems stored in four archive boxes. A quick search on our database highlighted the Fivehead emblem and checking the location showed “Fivehead” on the outside of the box. Inside we found the traditional brass emblem but unusually topped by a bird. During further research we discovered the following in a report from the Langport and Somerton Herald, May 27, 1922:

“”In proposing the toast of “The Club,” the President reminded them of what Mr Calder said to them during his speech. They had recently unveiled and dedicated their war memorial in the parish, which had been erected in memory of their gallant fellows who returned not. Those men belonged to the great friendly society which went to stem the German hordes. (Cheers) In referring to the figure of a dove on their club-pole, the speaker said that the dove was the emblem of peace. When the Armistice was signed there was joy throughout the length and breadth of the land and they all spent a happy time in Fivehead on that day.”

The Friendly Society emblems also revealed a central connection and foundation to the Yeovil Museum Collection as the 50 or so emblems were acquired by William Wyndham, the founder of the first Museum in Yeovil in 1928.

Following a Fivehead cream tea (a speciality I understand!) we were back to CHAC via Drayton, Muchelney, Long Load; Tintinhull and Chilthorne Domer to host a visit from a local Brownie Group with 18 Brownies and three helpers between 6 and 7pm. There was a special display of our oldest, newest and smallest objects and an exciting quiz highlighting aspects of the collection including “what is the name of the family that collected the glass collection?” (Answer – Pinney) Everyone enjoyed their time (see visitor book for proof!) and when the quiz asked what was your least favourite object – many hands went up and responded “Is it all right to say we liked everything!”

A friendly foundation all round.

Next time – look forward to a report on conservation cleaning a local drum!

The Fivehead Friendly Society Pole Head Emblem – a dove – emblem of peace – when the Armistice was signed the “doves” of Fivehead came out over 100 strong.

By the 18th Century many village clubs or friendly societies had been formed, usually with headquarters in the local inn. Members contributed a shilling a month to ensure medical attention in time of sickness or to provide a decent funeral.


We also supported Long Sutton Women’s Institute and Flower Club with a copy of a harvest image.


Small World...

Hello Hello Hello and Happy Friday from CHAC!

We hope that you all have had a brilliant half term week (if you are lucky enough to have one!) and have been getting out and about and visiting all the different events that have been put on by museums all over!

This week at CHAC saw our new volunteers starting! 6 enthusiastic people of all ages, some completely new to CHAC and others that we have known for a long time. We are very excited to have them working with us! and together with the staff they have been uncovering and recording some fabulous donations – like this poster here for Somerton Brewery dating 1897!! It is in such wonderful condition for an object that is over 100 years old!

….and on chatting to one of a new volunteers we made a spooky discovery, that it turns out one of our volunteers is actually a distant relative of our very own Mr Thorpe from our Fish Fridays Fish and Chip shop donation!