On Wednesday 12th September, we had a little party here at Devizes and we invited the local press to come along. We try and have at least one get together of all the volunteers every year, It gives them a chance to meet each other (many had never met before as they all come in on different days) but this was a special occasion.
We had an important visitor, John Chambers the Chief Executive of the Archives and Records Association (ARA). He came to present the volunteers with a unique ‘Highly Commended’ award in the annual Archive Volunteer of the Year competition. We had very narrowly missed out to Wolverhampton City Archives for the win, but as one of the volunteers told the local paper “Wolverhampton have got all the resources in the world whereas we operate on a shoestring.” While I would say that this is probably a little bit of an exaggeration, the Wolverhampton project is supported by both the National Cataloguing Grants Scheme and the National Manuscript conservation trust. The judges clearly thought our project was something very special indeed though, as this will be the first and last of this special award to be given.
I am very proud of our volunteers here, in four years from nothing, we have built a team that gives over 900 hours every year, that’s the equivalent of another one and a half members of staff. The volunteers cover all ages and abilities we have graduate students such as Hannah and now Natalie as well as the ‘old lags’ who have done over 40 years service with WRVS. Without the volunteers we wouldn’t have gained our UNESCO UK Memory of the World status and we wouldn’t be about to open our enquiry service to the public. In fact the archive probably wouldn’t be here at all.
All I can say is thank you, and here’s to the continuing future of the archive.