Meet some of our fantastic volunteers and find out why they chose to volunteer at the Old Royal Naval College.

Rachel Bates

Rachel joined the ORNC in 2014 and was inspired by her love of maritime history and the magnificent architecture of the ORNC. She originally applied for the role of Communications Volunteer, seeing it as a chance to experience a side of the heritage industry she wasn’t familiar with. Rachel helped out in the busy communications office, where she scheduled social media posts, created flyers and posters, and updated the ORNC website. Over time Rachel’s role changed and she was offered to opportunity to curate the ‘Hidden Details of the ORNC’ photography competition, which was a massive success.

The exhibition encouraged our visitors to photograph their favourite ‘hidden details’ around the ORNC.

I had the freedom to run it independently, even though staff were always willing to help me. I have learnt a lot, including project management skills, budgeting, how to lay out an exhibition, and about the importance of social media for museums. It’s been a fascinating journey. I am now working on the next exhibition called ORNC Goes to the Movies and I’m managing another volunteer.

Rachel urges anyone who might be on the fence about volunteering to ‘give it a go’

If you are 'on the fence' just give it a try! Everyone here is so welcoming you'll soon believe you've always been here.

Michele Stapleton

Michele has been a volunteer at the Old Royal Naval College since April 2015 when she joined as a Volunteer Explainer taking 45 guided walks on site. Retired after working for Cable and Wireless as a staff trainer and for the Independent Police Complaints Commission, Michele wasn’t ready for a quiet retirement or sitting at home. Living locally she wanted to give something back to her community, looking for a new experience, the chance to meet people and make new friends.

Since joining us at ORNC Michele has been a part of the Greenwich Music Time Festival, helped at Flog It!, with the Christmas Lantern Parade and with special groups, such as those with visual impairment. Her favourite part of the site is the Chapel with its Greek revival style designed by James ‘Athenian’ Stuart and she enjoys attending Knowledge Bites and other drop in sessions held on site to learn more about our varied history.

Learning the scripts for the guided walks was challenging but I have learnt so much and we’ve been so well supported. It’s amazing here because the people are so wonderful. It’s lovely that no one ever passes you by – they always stop to say hello. It’s such a supportive team feeling.

Other than the 45 minute guided walks which are Michele’s favourite, one of her best memories was being asked to speak at the quarterly staff and volunteer meeting; “I couldn’t believe that I was asked to speak! I spoke in front of volunteers, staffs, directors and the chief executive and everyone was really interested in what I had to say. The respect and appreciation of what volunteers do here is really embedded throughout”.

Julie Thornton

Julie joined the ORNC in October 2015 volunteering in the Visitor Experience office assisting with the administration behind volunteer recruitment, posting job roles, organising interviews and reference requests, as well as maintaining the website content. She did this alongside working as a Gallery Assistant at the Victoria and Albert Museum and after having graduated from her Master’s degree in Museum Studies at the University of Leicester. “Working in this role really helped to build my confidence” Julie says “I was able to co-ordinate and supervise volunteers for the Greenwich Music Time festival planning the volunteer rota, distributing the allocated free tickets and supporting the duty management of the event”. With ambitions towards a career in heritage education Julie moved to the learning team in August 2016 designing resources for family events, creating trails for teachers and students. She also supported school visits and family events at weekends and in school holidays.
Being in the learning department has been a fantastic experience for me. In both departments I’ve been so well-supported. I feel that I have developed strong professional skills that will help me pursue my career ambitions.
Julie returned to Canada at the end of 2016 and we wish her the best of luck.


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