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Volunteer Stories - Katherine Daire

16 January 2021

I first came to the museum as a volunteer, with the vehicle engineering team, in January 2018 and from that first day I could tell I had met a very special group of people.

My Dad Colin Reynolds was a volunteer engineer at Brooklands Museum and loved being part of the team. He was an avid restorer of classic and vintage MGs and had a collection of four cars, three of which he had built himself. So when he discovered the volunteer engineers team he found a great creative outlet for his skills.

Sadly, my Dad was diagnosed with MND in June 2017 and by the following January was unable to speak or use his hands very well and so had stopped coming to the museum each Thursday. I knew he missed the team and the camaraderie, as well as the chance to work on the vehicles, so I persuaded him to let me come with him each week and be his voice and his hands. So as someone with absolutely no engineering experience, I became part of the vehicle team of volunteers.

The vehicle team are a tremendous group of people; kind, funny, always laughing and so talented. It's a privilege to know them and the museum is very lucky to have them as volunteers. Summer days at the museum being outdoors amongst the cars and the people felt very special and all stopping for a picnic lunch in the sun in a huge group was very enjoyable. It has been great getting to know the museum and the collection and it has become a very special place to me.

Since losing my Dad in October 2018 the team have all been amazing, especially Andy, Chris, John, and Debbie, who have helped take care of our family and in particular, helped me manage the vintage cars that my Dad left behind. They have spent hours at our house teaching me to drive them, keep them ticking over, change batteries, clean gasket heads – I have learned so much. My biggest regret of course is that I didn't learn everything I could about these cars and restoring them from my Dad. So much knowledge that is now lost is tragic.

One Thursday in the museum cafe Dad wrote a message to me to say that he wished we had been doing this together for years and I couldn’t have agreed more. It turned out to be one of the most special memories I have of being with him, hanging out together at the museum, amongst the old cars and such a friendly and happy group of people. I have undoubtedly made friends for life.

30 years ago my Dad restored an MG M Type. He restored and built many classic MGs but this cream cracker was his absolute favourite car. He raced it for years and many times at Brooklands. We would come and watch him and my Daughter absolutely loved buzzing about the track with him in the car. She loves the car and plans to drive it as soon as she is old enough. My Son has recently completed his Duke of Edinburgh volunteering at Brooklands so it’s become a family affair.

My Dad had asked me to see if the museum would be interested in having the car as part of the collection and so myself and my family were all very happy, sad, and proud, at the beginning of 2020 when my Dad's pride and joy M type was brought into the museum collection. As an original replica of the 12/12 race at Brooklands it’s a perfect fit to be based at the museum.

I cannot make it to the Brooklands every Thursday but I enjoy still being part of the team when I can and coming into the museum to drive the car. It's wonderful to see it on display and even better seeing it driving around the track and to see visitors enjoying the car.

Katherine's first day volunteering at Brooklands Museum