Volunteer Highlight: Andy

In the latest Volunteer Highlight blog, read on to see why Andy, our maintenance volunteer, helps out at the Museum of Cambridge!

I gave up on working in 2021. September to be precise. Covid and teaching on-line did it for me. It was the start of the new academic year, and I wasn’t going to be doing any induction talks to a new intake of international students. To clear my mind of lesson planning, child protection, safeguarding, Ofsted and new owners, I walked around the Isle of Wight in 7 days. I was back in Cambridge by the end of the month and wondered what was I going to do to occupy my time; and more importantly not get in the way of my wife, Tina, who was also retired and volunteering. 

My first attempt to become a volunteer had ended in disappointment in pre-Covid times. I regularly walked and ran past the Museum of Technology (CMT) on the riverside and noticed all their works going on over a period of years. Eventually I reached out but never made a connection with the then curator Pam; but then along came Covid. Two years later I did eventually indeed meet with Pam and was inducted into the site maintenance team under the watchful and nervous eyes of Steve and Jinks. I was not that practical a person; however, I was willing to learn and give it a go. After a full 15 months I was awarded some 15+ proficiency badges for the things I could safely now do. It was like being a cub scout again!

I now still volunteer at CMT two days a week, and help out on the Steam Day events and with educational visits from schools and scout groups and various other ad-hoc activities. 

One Thursday afternoon in November, however, I was at a loose end and had gone into Cambridge for a walk and remembered that CMT members have free admission to the Museum of Cambridge. I had never been to the Museum, so I wandered in, wandered around and as I reached the shop, I asked the question: “Do you need any more volunteers?” 

A quick call to Annie (Director) and she came down to meet me. The rest as they say, is history. I met with Alex (Collections and Engagement Manager with Directorial Responsibilities), she checked with CMT about the badges, and now I’m the maintenance person or Andy the Handyman! I come in on Thursdays most weeks and do the little things around the place that always need doing- Like fixing door handles, installing hooks, reading the water meter and just generally trying to maintain the building. 

My highlight so far has been the shop-makeover project which we’ve recently completed, generously supported by the Steps to Sustainability projected funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. The work was done along with my wife Tina, Cathy from the lovely CMT volunteers, the wonder folks at Xylem, as well as the amazing MoC volunteers Ruth, Annabel, Dom, Jenny and staff members Alex and Sum Yin! You will see more exciting plans for the shop during the year from Sum Yin, so do stay tuned.

My other highlight of volunteering here is the abundance of biscuits and snacks in the tea room! It is difficult not to make comparisons between the two Museums. However the sheer quantities of biscuits at MoC ensures that volunteers come back regularly. Steaming weekends at CMT are also very well provided for events. 

One thing you should know is that I’m likely to talk about running or more precisely parkrun, and the positive effect this has had on both my mental and physical well being. Alongside my two Museum volunteer roles, I also volunteer at both the weekly 5k run at Coldhams Common and the Junior Parkrun for 4–14-year-olds.

Overall, volunteering has had a positive impact on my post-work life, and been keeping me busy!

Volunteer Highlight: Andy