UPDATE: The Napier-Railton will be off-site from 8th December at The Peninsula London Hotel and will return to be on-site from 9th January 2024.

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Volunteer Stories - Debbie Crawt

23 May 2020

We are back with another of our Volunteer Stories. This time we have Debbie Crawt, who volunteers with 3 different teams.

'My story contains no great revelations or historical connections but shows the reason why I love volunteering at Brooklands Museum.

Cars have been a great love of my life since I was a child, when I frequently visited my Dad, at work at Derringtons in London Road, Kingston upon Thames. So much so that if asked at the age of five what I wanted to be when I grew up, the answer was always the same, a racing driver! Clearly, and possibly fortuitously, that never happened so it was only the offer of redundancy in 2009 that gave me the freedom to volunteer at a place I knew I'd feel at home.

With no engineering skills, but plenty of enthusiasm I  was unsure of what to do when I arrived, but after a lucky meeting with the  Motoring Team I knew that Dunlop Mac was the place for me.  Thursdays are a great joy, working with the cars, the amazing and sometimes crazy ideas, the engineering, it can be hard graft, but then it works its magic. Then, when the cars are repaired, there's the opportunity to drive around the track, be it in the 1904 Siddley of Ethel Locke-King, through to the 1930s cars, the Lagonda, Bentley, Morris, MG's, to the lovely old Bedford CA Crew Bus and the lumbering BMC Bowser from the fifties and sixties. 

The days are always varied in Dunlop Mac, from rebuilding the front of the Alvis FWD, to flushing out the fuel tank of the MG PA, cleaning the interior of the Bedford Control Tower or just chatting to the passing public, you just never know what's waiting for you when you sign in.

About six months into volunteering I was approached by Rolie Luker and David Norfolk, stalwarts of the Members Outreach team. They were looking to expand, spreading the word about Brooklands Museum by improving their offering to the public with an increased number of shows, better stand, displays, information and procedures.  It would be a different experience to the Motoring Team, but an opportunity to meet people and share the joy so I jumped at the chance. In a normal summer we'd be out there from April to September, in all types of weather, both onsite and increasingly off, settings up at lovely little shows like Haselmere and Capel and experiencing the commercialism, but very enjoyable benefits of the  Goodwood Festival of Speed. Of course, it isn't always sunny and bright, we've experienced torrential thunderstorms when everyone and everything got soaked, wind so strong you hang on to the gazebos for dear life and the long, long days when you're unable to leave the showground until 9.30pm due to the volume of visiting traffic. It's a friendly team, full of fun, we share the highs and lows, but generally, at the end of it, we can all say we've had a lovely day.

Then, through friendships made via the Motoring Team, I decided to offer my services to Car Rides. For me this is a much easier commitment, only requiring attendance during half-term and school holidays to help marshall, load the cars or sell tickets. You experience it all in the paddock, the fear of what's to come, the beaming, excited children who leap from the cars shouting more, more and the sometimes shaken parents who didn't quite expect what they'd just experienced.  As with all the volunteers, the Car Rides guys & gals are a great team of lovely people who raise a lot of money for the Museum if the weather is kind.

So, three different teams, three different challenges but all providing experiences you'd struggle to find anywhere else, what fun!'