Here at The National Holocaust Centre and Museum we couldn’t do much of the work we do without the fantastic contribution from volunteers. From front of house to the coffee shop, gardening to education, our volunteers assist in every area of the Centre’s work. We took time to have a chat with one of our longest serving volunteers, Bernard, to find out more about his time as a volunteer here at the Centre.
1. How long have you been volunteering at the Centre?
I started to volunteer in the spring of 2010.
2. What initially attracted you to volunteering at the Centre?
I retired in 2009 and initially went with my wife to work as volunteers in Belize in Central America for 3 months. When we returned I started to look for something to do, because I knew that, having been so busy during my working life, I would struggle with staying at home all the time with nothing to do. I therefore contacted Mansfield Community and Voluntary Services and asked them what they had available, but then my daughter Charlotte (who had worked here some years before) suggested that I contact the Centre. I came and saw Margaret the Facilities Manager, who suggested that I work in the Bookshop. Since I like reading, I agreed.
3. What have you been involved with as a volunteer?
I have worked in the bookshop and on Reception and I occasionally help out Leonie the Coffee Shop Manager in the Coffee Shop if she is busy.
4. Do you have any highlights during your time as a volunteer?
Many, including meeting Michael Parkinson and hearing many inspiring stories from the Survivors who speak here!
5. What does a typical day look like as a volunteer?
On a typical day, we welcome a couple of schools and some members of the public, sell them some merchandise including stationery and books. We also talk to the survivors, who are present on that day, and staff members, who are a friendly bunch. The Bookshop normally needs restocking, the phone answering and queries sorting out.
6. What do you look forward to when you volunteer?
I enjoy meeting the people. The aim of the Centre is to celebrate diversity and encourage tolerance of other people and I fully support that and I enjoy being part of it.
7. What have you learnt during your time as a volunteer?
Having read a lot of the books in the Bookshop, my knowledge of the Holocaust is much wider. I am struck, having got to know many of the survivors, how cheerful they are. They have found a way of dealing with their past.