Guide, volunteer coordinator and trustee
Tell us a bit about yourself – what do you do when you’re not volunteering?
I used to edit a magazine for sight loss professionals, and still retain an interest in accessibility. Like other retired people I know, I postponed too many interests for later, and now save time by combining them: travel, languages and photography; environment, windmills and family history (my ancestors were millwrights).
What sort of volunteering work do you do with FoWG?
I joined FoWG as a guide, and have continued with that ever since. Later I joined the communications group, where I worked on Mill Memories (an oral history of the windmill) and a new edition of the windmill guide book . I also edited A History of Brixton Windmill in 16 Objects, a series we produced for our bicentenary in 2016. I’m currently volunteer coordinator and a trustee.
How did you get into volunteering with FoWG?
One sunny autumn day a few years ago, it was meant to be a short stop on my itinerary for Open House weekend. It was love at first sight, and the rest is history!
What is your favourite thing about volunteering?
Without a doubt it’s guiding – sharing my enthusiasm for the windmill with visitors and enjoying their interest and appreciation.
What is the one piece of advice you’d give to someone looking to volunteer?
Dip your toe in and have a go. You don’t have to be perfect first time, but you may surprise yourself!
How do you feel you have benefited from volunteering with FoWG?
My job as an editor was fairly deskbound, so meeting the public and learning new presentation and communication skills has been good for me (and very useful for anyone at any age). It’s also a lot healthier than sitting at a desk.
Finally, tell us a surprising fact about the windmill that people may not know.
The global catastrophe that killed off harvests in 1816 was not the only hardship that the Ashby family (our founders) faced when starting up the windmill. We’re still learning more about all this as we research the history. Their resilience is a great inspiration to the dedicated group of volunteers with wide-ranging talents and interests who look after the windmill today.