How I became a volunteer
In 2009, I was a construction worker with an interest in cricket, but with little knowledge of the history of the game. I was at sixty-six years of age, quite fit but with the knowledge that at some time I should retire from running my own business, H Foster and Son.
Just by chance Jon Filby, now Chair of the Museum Trustees, was appealing for volunteers to help fit out a new home for the Sussex Cricket Museum, I could see that this would be a steppingstone into retirement for me and a way to repay cricket for the hours of pleasure it had given me and still does. I became a volunteer. What I didn’t realize was how deeply I would be involved, and the mammoth task that lay ahead or indeed the wonderful friends I would make on the way.
The transformation of the Museum
It was the winter of 2009/10, and the new Museum was still being transformed from the cellar of the pavilion which had been used for many years up until then as the groundsmen’s store and mower shed. This former groundsmen’s store which at one time contained stables for the horses that pulled the mowers, was being plastered out with tanking in places where the water had penetrated, with a floor and ceiling decorated throughout.
This was the blank canvas for curator Rob Boddie, myself and a few volunteers. A mountain of artifacts, books, cabinets of all shapes and sizes in various states of repair were moved into the new museum from the storage places in hospitality units, yellow box storage, people’s homes and even their garages.
We worked on the Museum during the 2010 summer season and the following winter and were able to open part of the Museum for the beginning of the 2011 season. During that time I was able to fit out the Archive Room and secure it, so that Norman Epps could collate the library of some 1500 books and scorecards. We also managed to fit out Gallery One and Two with cabinets, memorabilia and framed pictures.
My job was to fit it out whilst the cricket knowledge came from the other volunteers, mainly Rob and Norman. If a cabinet needed to be fitted, I fixed it, as well as a picture here and a door or a shelf there. That was my job and an exciting time it was. Sadly for anyone coming in to volunteer now, we had all the fun, but the Museum still needs to be maintained and the exhibits changed each winter to keep everything fresh and interesting.
Someone needed to take over my role
My job is done, but the Museum still needs someone to do the odd jobs that still need to be done. That is where you come in. If you have practical skills from the building industry or are a good DIY person, you could help the Museum. I have left it so that it is as easy as possible to fix to the walls using board panels, which are easy to screw into and quickly made good.
After 13 happy years and at the age of 79, my time at the Museum is at an end. I have handed back my door key to Keith the new curator. I may be sad that this had to be done but I have a great feeling of satisfaction that I have given cricket back something of value and interest for years to come.
If you think you may be able to help, please contact the museum on the contact page on the website. If it would help you, I would be very happy to go through what is expected of you.
Give it a go, just as I did and have many great memories and good friends over the years, it really is worth your time, I know, I was there.