As a volunteer for The Claude Jessett trust I attended the Volunteers experience day on Saturday April 22nd. The idea of this day is to give volunteers a chance to experience driving or operating as many items in the collection as possible as well as a chance to socialise with other volunteers who may not be able to attend the regular volunteer evenings or weekends. As a volunteer you get the chance to work on any number of on-going projects. You may change your project as time goes on or you may stick to one particular area of interest, traction engines, tractors or railways for instance. The Volunteer experience day gives you the chance to see the overall picture of what is currently being worked on, as well as items in the collection that have already been restored but that you may not have had the chance to get acquainted with.
In my case I started off as a volunteer on the narrow gauge railway and had some experience with traction engines both on and off the road. I am currently working on the Trust’s ex Brighton Hove & District convertible open top bus. On the day I had the opportunity to drive a traction engine, a London single deck bus and a ‘Green Goddess’ fire engine on the private roads around the park. All the volunteers enjoyed sandwiches and tea/coffee provided by the trust and, later in the evening, we adjourned to the meeting room in the New Inn pub to watch some films of early rallies at Tinkers Park and elsewhere taken by Peter Haining and others. Over 30 volunteers attended with ages ranging from 17 to over 70 It is true to say that a good social atmosphere was enjoyed by all and everyone had an opportunity to get some hands-on experience of a wide range of heritage vehicles and railway locomotives.