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Behind the Scenes with the Volunteer Coordinator

25 April 2021

In our latest blog series, we're going behind the scenes at the Museum with our staff and volunteers. This week volunteer Michael Sands has written about a day in the life of the Volunteer Coordinator.

THURSDAY IS BROOKLANDS DAY……………….…HOORAY!!!

Thursday. 0645. An early start today because it’s my Brooklands Museum day. Depending on the weather, I can use the car or fire up my motorcycle for the fifteen-mile journey and become just another commuter again.

08:45 First task ….start unlocking some of the exhibition buildings. Brooklands is unusual in that it trusts Volunteers to unlock the main displays and set everything going for the day.

09:15 Morning Briefing. The Duty Manager for the day outlines any special activities on-site for today. That is very useful because it enables me to pass on any messages or requests to the Volunteers who are likely to be affected and to give them some idea of the anticipated number of visitors.

09:30 By now Volunteers are arriving ready for 1000 opening. I try to greet each one by name and chat briefly before assigning them to an area of the Museum for the day. Most of them like to go to the same area every time they attend, usually because they have a special knowledge, experience, skill or interest in that area. They also form close friendships and instinctively work as a team.

That is one of the great benefits of working at Brooklands. Most of the Volunteers are retired. The day before you retire, you are someone significant in an organisation with a network of colleagues who form an unspoken support group. The day after you retire, all that has gone………… ”hero to zero in 24 hours”. The camaraderie and banter across groups of Volunteers at Brooklands replaces that support group and rapidly develops new interests and new contacts. It is a very reassuring feeling.

10:15 The Museum is open to the public now. My next task is to walk around every exhibition area and every aircraft to make sure the Volunteers are well set up for the day, and that they can cover each other for coffee and lunch breaks.

The beauty of the walk‐arounds (two or three a day) is that I get to see all the teams for conversations here and there…………….and usually learn something new every day. If there is any sort of problem, they tell me and I pass it on to the appropriate Manager. Sometimes I feel like some sort of shop steward and I even have a former Heathrow shop steward on one of the aircraft today as a Volunteer!

One of the delights of Brooklands is that we never know who is going to come through the gates on any given day. Talking to visitors and hearing their stories is a treasure‐trove of interest. In addition to that, walking around the site three times and climbing stairs is good exercise!

10:30 Buy sandwiches for lunch and put them away in my locker. That means I don’t have to queue behind visitors on a busy day.

11:00 First “rounds” completed, time for a coffee (and chat with the Hospitality team) and then to spend some time with the team to which I relate most closely, the Brooklands Motorcycle Team. That may be just watching the work on maintaining the bikes or it may be discussing plans for the next “live” motorcycling event, but like so much else, it’s an enjoyable, social, technical activity.

11:30 Second “rounds”. Aircraft first this time, and a friendly call on the Bus Museum volunteers. Although they are separate from the Brooklands Museum teams, I like to keep in touch and ask what they are doing today since it helps me should a visitor ask because we are all part of the visitors’ day out.

13:00 Lunch. I like to go to the cafeteria when it is open but if Covid restrictions apply, I go to the Volunteers’ “crew room” where I can have lunch with the motorcycle boys. During lunch, I hand over to my friend Roger who will coordinate for the afternoon session.

14:00 If there are car and motorcycle demonstrations on the Finishing Straight today, I will go there to give the running public address commentary as the vehicles rumble around. There are four motorcycles running today. I have brought my helmet, boots and gloves……………….maybe I’ll get a ride as well !

15:00 No other business for today. A pleasant ride home before rush hour. What a civilised end to the “working” day!