Wakefield ex-miner and author ‘impressed’ with National Coal Mining museum’ as attraction looks to recruit new volunteers

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A former miner who spent his working life in Wakefield’s pits said a visit to the city’s National Coal Mining Museum gave him a new look at one of our region’s most important trades.

Former miner Pete McGowan who wrote memoir Dirty Days about his time working at collieries.

The National Coal Mining Museum is hosting a volunteer open day tomorrow (Thursday, April 27).

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Mr McGowan said: “I couldn't believe how interesting it really was.

Former miners Pete Wadsworth, Tony Banks and Pete McGowanFormer miners Pete Wadsworth, Tony Banks and Pete McGowan
Former miners Pete Wadsworth, Tony Banks and Pete McGowan

"Even though I spent most of my working life down the mine and I thought I had seen everything there was to see and knew everything about coal mining, I still was pleased to learn a few things I didn't know.

"It was especially nice to see all the young generations there and how excited they got when they had to put their helmets and cap lamps on to go down the mine,

“I could feel their excitement in the air. Before I knew it, what was planned as an hour trip turned into the whole afternoon and still I didn't see everything there was to see.

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“The icing on the cake for me was how friendly and enthusiastic all the staff were.”

“Even my grand kids who usually get bored easily have visited twice this year and I’m going back next week.”

The museum currently has over 65 volunteers in various roles across the organisation but is looking for new people to join its army of volunteers, building their own skills and experience while helping to bring the history of coalmining to life.

There are a range of different roles that the museum is hoping to recruit.

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Sally-Ann Burley, visitor engagement coordinator “We’re delighted to be hosting another volunteer open day and look forward to welcoming new potential volunteers for various roles across the organisation.

"As a national museum we rely on volunteers to help us operate and to deliver our extensive programme of events, so we are constantly looking for new people to join our growing team. We work hard to create a welcoming and friendly environment for volunteers so they feel part of the family and are valued for their contributions.”

Ian Guest, 62, is one of the museums Creator’s, using his technical know-how to develop displays that show the impact of mechanics on the mining process.

He said: “I wanted a hands-on role that put my mind to the test and I’ve been able to use my background in electronics, electrics and computing and taught myself to design and print in 3D.

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"I’ve been made to feel really welcome and developed new skills. I’m proud to be part of this place that keeps the stories of mining alive.”

Volunteers do not need to have experience of mining or working in a museum as training is provided for every role.

Susan Marsden, 62, became a greeter last August.

She said: “I wanted to do something different after I retired. I’ve met so many lovely people and learned about the industry where my grandfather worked. We used to visit the museum as a family so it’s a special place and I love being a part of it.”

The NCM’s volunteer open day is April 27 from 10am to 2pm. If unable to make that day email [email protected].