BPMA invited all its volunteers to an evening reception on Wednesday 13 July to say ‘thank you’ for all the hours of time and effort given to help in our work. The evening was kindly sponsored by UniversalMail UK.
We have a total of 19 volunteers, and they have contributed 500 hours of their own time in the year since our first volunteer celebration last July.
Although our volunteers work without financial recompense, we hope that each of them gets a high level of satisfaction from working with and for us. Some learn new skills or use the opportunity as career development. For others, volunteering at BPMA is a chance to do something different from their day job, or to use specialist skills and knowledge developed at work. And for our philatelic volunteers, working at BPMA is about simple enjoyment, the pleasure of meeting people or working on a subject they love.
Whatever their motivation, our volunteers have made splendid contributions to the BPMA in the past year. These have ranged from helping us be present at events we couldn’t otherwise attend, to working with schoolchildren, undertaking specialist cataloguing and digitisation, and hands-on work with objects and preservation.
As a token of our thanks, Helen Forde, Chair of the BPMA Trustees, presented a gift and ‘thank you’ certificate to everyone attending on the evening.
Sarah Cooper joined us as an enthusiastic ten week intern. She is helping across a wide spectrum of typical curatorial work. She is gaining experience in numerous areas, including object handling, documentation, movement control and storage issues. We have provided training in a small number of areas such as IPM (Pest Management), Oral History summarisation technique and Family History research. Sarah has also written several blogs for us, including last Friday’s piece on George Romney.
Alexia Lazou worked on the lantern slide collections review and cataloguing project doing background research into the lantern slides and the slide manufacturers. She also assisted in the sorting and repackaging of the lantern slides, contributing to their long-term preservation.
Don Staddon has been working on special stamp issues from 1985 to date, mounting the issued material. This is part of a large project to amalgamate all the material from each issue to tell that issue’s story in order, and is in preparation for the material eventually going online.
Tom Norgate has been working on creating listings of airmail and railway letters which will again eventually be added to the online catalogue. He also keeps our present day postal mechanisation up to date in consultation with Royal Mail engineers and others.
Julian Osley has been scanning and describing the H-series photographs from archive class POST 118 since October 2010. He has listed 540 photographs – assigned finding numbers and created descriptions on our collections management database; scanned 387 photographs and material dating from the 1960s-1970s, and attached images to the records.
Bruce Robertson kicked the hornets nest when he agreed to take on the back-log of our ‘snap-shot’ mail collection. He has proactively managed the acquisition of new material; a job that Curatorial never had the time to commit to. He has also increased partner heritage organisations awareness of BPMA, and has improved storage, description and catalogue records of this collection.
Glenn Morgan, having almost completed the ‘keys’ project that formed much of his volunteering work last year, is now regularly helping the Curatorial team with collections management at Debden. He is giving the interior of our vehicles a clean out on a rota basis and pumping tyres, as well as looking at cycle storage and providing recommendations for the latter. This bench marking project will (hopefully) allow us to improve our storage of a ‘difficult’ group of objects, aiding us in completing a job that we do not have time for, and will prevent further damage to his part of the collection.
Ron Clarke attends many of the BPMA’s regular open afternoons at the Museum Store, Debden. He runs the shop for us and assists with the tours. He also takes responsibility for welcoming visitors as they arrive and helping to explain basic housekeeping. During tours he helps ensure visitors keep together and attends to any late comers. During the break in the tours Ron does a fantastic job looking after the BPMA shop, sales for stock are always higher when he is on duty!
Sarah Jenkins made significant headway on creating our printed and bound Accession Registers by creating and proofing the 2009 register. At 615 pages long at last count, this was no mean feat! Thanks to Sarah’s work, we were able to begin to meet the commitment we made to create these registers as part of our Museum Accreditation application. Sarah also assisted with some Saturday openings of the archive in the autumn. Sarah, a Museum Studies graduate currently working in the educational grants sector, much appreciated the opportunity to gain current experience with collections and collection management systems at the BPMA. She hopes it will help her gain a museum post after the end of her current contract, in September 2011.
To find out more about volunteering opportunities at the BPMA please see the volunteers page on our website.