Hi, I’m Gayle and I have been a volunteer Heritage Interpreter at Aston Hall since April 2014. I was very proud to receive my three year service award last Christmas.
I first started visiting Aston Hall as a child in the early 1960’s and have never tired of being involved with it. Having always loved history, I feel passionate about maintaining our heritage for future generations. I enjoy taking visitors around the Hall and explaining the history - especially this year as it is our 400th anniversary. I am always happy to show off our State Rooms and to see everyone’s reactions when we reach the Long Gallery – it always has the ‘wow’ factor. So many influential people have been associated here including Sir Thomas Holte, Charles I, James Watt Junior and Queen Victoria to name but a few.
My role at Aston Hall can vary so much and I enjoy that flexibility. I can be taking a tour, organising our Costume Room, doing research for future tours, even a TV interview or helping with some of our fabulous events.
One role that has developed for me in particular is the Pop-Up Still Room. I researched what might have been here in the gardens at Aston Hall 400 years ago, in particular the herb garden. I was keen to find out more about the role of the lady of the house and the medicinal uses of those herbs. I was surprised to discover that so many of the herbs used at that time are still relevant today. Our visitors have always shown a great interest in the Still Room and it’s an opportunity to let people handle the herbs and hear what they were used for and the associated superstitions.
This year I was lucky enough to be allocated a small area of garden. The location in the North Courtyard is perfect as it is situated at the Visitor Reception, just outside the tea room and gift shop. Since April I have been busy planting up a Heritage Herb Garden and have had so much support from the Aston Hall team, the Museum Enablers and other volunteers. It has already proved to be a great success with visitors and it’s a perfect opportunity to engage with them and to promote the Hall.
Would I recommend volunteering with Birmingham Museums Trust? Absolutely! It is the best thing I have ever done. I have gained so much knowledge and confidence and met some amazing people along the way. We have a fantastic team at Aston Hall – all ages and backgrounds. Above all else we have a common passion to keep this beautiful building open to the public for as long as we possibly can.
If you are interested in volunteering for Birmingham Museums then take a look at the current volunteering opportunities we have available across all our sites.