Vice Chair, tour guide, photographer
Tell us about yourself – what do you do when you’re not volunteering?
I also volunteer for a couple of other organisations, but I do find time for myself and for catching up with my extended family. In my day job I work as an architect, with a specialisation in historic buildings.
What sort of volunteering work do you do with FoWG?
During the open season, my main activity is guiding during open days. I also help to train new guides and help the millwright to get the windmill’s sails turning when he comes on National Mills Weekend (the 2nd weekend in May). I also take lots of photographs for the charity on open days and events and help to keep our Flickr gallery fresh and up to date. I’m also a trustee, so meet monthly to keep the charity running successfully. I’m also on the ‘sustainability’ sub group which concentrates on fundraising and oversight of the charity’s business plan.
How did you get into volunteering with FoWG?
At the time I joined, I was involved with the Brixton Area Forum, from which a variety of projects were spawned, including the Friends of Windmill Gardens charity. I was most involved with the original consultations for re-forming Windrush Square, but on visiting the FoWG stall at the Country Show, I was inspired by the project and joined up.
What is your favourite thing about volunteering with FoWG?
I’m most proud of the difference we have made to Windmill Gardens, right from the beginning. It used to be in a state of disrepair, but we have introduced regular social activities that are attractive to the local residents regardless of background, and we helped make physical improvements to the park while the campaign to restore the mill was seen through. My favourite thing at the moment is seeing how the project develops in new ways, particularly now with the new education centre under construction.
How do you feel you have benefited from volunteering?
Volunteering provides an outlet for a variety of interests. For example, in my work as an architect on historic buildings, I concentrate on producing a lot of intricate documentation with tight deadlines. Whereas when I’m showing groups of people around the building, I enjoy trying to see what aspects interest them, so I can bring the windmill alive in different ways.
What is the one piece of advice you’d give to someone looking to volunteer with FoWG?
My advice on volunteering is that we only expect you do to what you have time and inclination for, but the experience of many, myself included, is that the volunteering role can go in unexpected directions as the project progresses, so who knows what you’ll end up doing!
Why should people come visit the Brixton Windmill and the Windmill Gardens?
Windmill Gardens is a vital open space with a unique attraction in an area without as many community amenities as other parts of London. Although small in area, the park is used for all sorts of recreation and relaxation activities. The windmill is possibly the only rural industrial building from the early 1800’s within 4 miles of the centre of London to survive the city’s growth during the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century. The fact that it survived under the same milling family, whose machinery we still grind flour with, is an amazing story.
Finally, tell us a surprising fact about the windmill that people may not know.
People may not know that the sails can go around fast enough for you to hear a gentle whooshing noise when each one passes overhead if you stand close-by below. The opportunity to experience this does not come often, but it does happen.
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