Museum volunteers earn paid jobs thanks to voluntary work at Richmond attraction

Poppy Milner, left, and Lois Elder.

Two volunteers have secured full-time jobs — and the team at the Green Howards Museum where they’ve been helping say they are happy to see them go!

Lois Elder and Poppy Milner, both from Richmond, have got full-time museum jobs, but credit the time they’ve spent volunteering at the town centre attraction with giving them the edge at their interviews.

Lois has already started a new role as visitor assistant at The Bowes Museum, while Poppy is about to head to London to take up a post at the Natural History Museum.

“I’ve spent the last year working on various hands-on tasks, from cataloguing and updating records to taking care of collection items in the museum stores,” said Lois, who has a BA in classical studies from the University of Winchester, and a masters in classics and ancient history from Newcastle University.

“It’s been fascinating getting a practical insight into managing the Green Howards Museum’s collection.

“Being able to put those skills, gained through volunteering, onto my CV showed I was motivated and passionate enough about wanting to work in the sector, and this was a real talking point during my interview.

“I’m so excited about starting my career in museums and heritage and my time at the Green Howards certainly helped me get that vital foot in the door.”

Having completed her BSc geology at the University of Hull, but knowing she wanted to pursue a profession in museums, Poppy started volunteering just over two years ago to get some practical experience.

She also enrolled for the museum studies MA course at Newcastle University.

“I’ve been mainly documenting objects in the museum collection, my biggest task being dealing with cataloguing the extensive archive collection relating to Yorkshire Regiment soldier, JS Purvis, which then formed the basis of my master’s final project,” said Poppy, who admits she spent a large proportion of her interview for the role of interim assistant curator, ores at the Natural History Museum talking about Green Howards.

“I’ve loved volunteering at the museum, everyone has been very supportive, and I’ve also really valued having the chance to be immersed in a part of history I hadn’t really known much about, or thought I would be interested in.

“Getting to learn directly through first-hand accounts and context from objects was really rewarding, and I’m so happy to now move into a job that incorporates both what I originally studied at university and museum work.”

While sad to lose the input of Lois and Poppy, the team at the museum say they proud to have worked with the pair and are excited to see them start their new careers.

“Poppy and Lois are both so incredibly well qualified, but it is very difficult to get a start as a new professional in the heritage sector, and the challenges faced by younger people in rural areas like Richmond are immense,” said collections manager, Zoe Utley, who looks after a team of 20 volunteers at the Green Howards Museum.

““We all felt the agony of waiting to learn the outcomes of their interviews, but it was worth it in the end.

“To be able to have played some small part in helping them pursue their dreams is just great.

“We were lucky to have them and they’ve made a real contribution to the work we do here.”