Mary is Hooked on Volunteering

Mary Bilsborough was one of the Harris' most active volunteers, working alongside staff on numerous projects from 1998-2011 and winning a Lancashire Year of the Volunteer Award for Commitment in 2005. Mary sadly passed away suddenly in January 2012 and is very much missed by her colleagues at the Harris. This is what Mary had to say about volunteering at the Harris:

"After being left a widow, and having brought up seven children, I found I had a lot of time on my hands. Then I had a mild heart attack and had to take things easy. I started a computer course at the University but gave up part way through, and decided to try Preston College where I passed a maths exam never having done maths before! I was quite pleased and went on to do a bookkeeping course which I also passed and some computer work on a teleworking course.

In 1998, I became a volunteer and decided I am happy doing what some people might call the 'boring' jobs! My first task was a workshop in the Handmade in India craft exhibition in 1999 where we had articles and toys that people could come and touch and play with. I was nervous at first, but after the first session I was hooked talking to people and showing them different items of interest. I helped to pack away the exhibits and check that everything was as it should be.

Then I worked on an exhibition called Costume for Celebration. I made covers for the models before fitting the costumes on to them, and stitched labels on to costumes so they could be catalogued. We also checked our ceramics records for accuracy. I did quite a few children's workshops for the Education Officer which were great fun.

The next big thing was working on another costume exhibition, Rites of Passage. I did more sewing, making aprons and other clothes for the children to dress up in.

At the moment I come in on two mornings and work with Hilary (Development Manager) and Emma (Keeper of Social History) For example, I fill and address envelopes for the museum's promotional leaflets and input records on to the computer which I find interesting.

I look forward to my time working here as everyone is so friendly. I enjoy everything that goes on at the museum. We get invitations to all the openings and met lots of interesting people; I find the experience relaxing and exciting at the same time”

Mary Bilsborough

Bernadette is Enchanted by Fabulous Pharaohs

"I will never forget the moment I entered the tombs in the Valley of the Kings, saw the fabulous temples of Luxor and Karnak and was amazed at the monumental Temple at Abu Simbel dedicated to Rameses II. Since then I have been to Cairo to view the fabulous pyramids and the museum to gaze on the gold death mask of Tutankamun, visited the collections at the Louvre in Paris, and the ones locally at Bolton and Blackburn. I am fascinated and captivated by the architecture, artefacts, and culture of the ancient Egyptians. It is often said that Kings and Queens can rule from the grave and would say that the Pharaohs are still doing so four thousand years later and have the power to affect lives today, including mine!

I had twice been on the Egyptian balcony tour and on the second occasion I started chatting to the Education Officer. She said I seemed very enthusiastic and knowledgeable and asked if I would like to become a tour guide. I have now been a tour guide for two years. It has been an opportunity for me to share my knowledge of Egypt with others in my home town of Preston in a museum which I love and have been visiting since the age of five.

I consider it an honour to work as a volunteer for the Harris as I not only admire the Egyptian balcony, but the Greek friezes and the permanent collections. I am also a Friend of the Harris and hope to be connected with the museum for the rest of my life."

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