This month we shine the spotlight on Evelyn Radford. Evelyn has been volunteering at the Museum since July 2013 and is one of our team of 10 collections volunteers.
Hello Evelyn, Can you tell us how you heard about volunteering at the Castle and Museum?
Following retirement my husband drew it to my attention having seen the opportunities advertised in a local newspaper. He knew my interests and thought it was something I would really enjoy.
What is your role at the Castle and Museum?
I am a volunteer Collections Assistant; I support the archivist in any area that he thinks my skills would help. To date we have reviewed museum holdings and placed in a time line in readiness for a more indepth cataloguing. We have also spent time in setting up and transcribing listings (Rolls of Honour, etc.) as this would enable research to take place without continually handling the very fragile items. Scanning and cataloging items on loan, with the consent of the owners, to build a fuller picture of the history of The Black Watch.
What motivates you to volunteer at the Castle and Museum?
As my family had a long association with The Black Watch, as most folk from Angus, I always hoped to be able to contribute in some way. I naively thought that with the life skills of IT, administration, librarian and secretarial skills that I would be helpful. I did not see myself gaining but being allowed to work in an area where I am happy and find very fulfilling.
How has the experience been for you so far?
In my first year the table has been completely turned on me, it is not what I could do for the Museum but what they have done for me. (Quote J F Kennedy). It has been an emotional roller coaster and the thrill and privilege of being able to handle intimate mementos of the common soldier and officers alike has been the most humbling experience of my life.
Can you tell us about the project you are focusing on just now?
With this being the 100th centenial remembrance of The Great War, we are working towards ensuring the upswing of interest will be a rewarding experience for the visitors to the Museum.
What has been the highlight of your time at the Museum?
Given this is the centennial year I have read letters, last wills, etc. of men who did not come home.
On a personal level my father was one of the men who survived Tobruk and was able to read the full story and the real heroism that was shown and not the quietly spoken, ‘We only did what anyone else would do’. My Dad was always a hero in my eyes but now I know he was a real hero in everyone else’s eyes.
Incidentally he was born in 1914 so this would have been his 100th birthday, so hand in hand with the First World War commemorations this year has been made more special and it is all thanks to The Black Watch Museum and the opportunity they gave me, so to them I say thank you very much.
How do you hope to progress in your volunteering role?
Being in my mid 60s I would like to continue with the transcription project to enable casual enquiries to be answered more efficiently. This would open the wealth of information for the public, as a genealogist I find that when your interest is captured it draws you in to want to learn more, helping to ensure that the name of The Black Watch does not fade away.
Can you give us a sneaky peak into what the archives might have planned for The Great War commemorations?
One of the exciting projects is the ‘artist in the archive’, where the resident artist, Robin Leishman will with work with the contents of the archive at the Museum to bring them to life through an array of artworks. An exhibition will be created with the finished artwork, which will be open to the public from 3rd May 2014
Would you recommend volunteering with the Museum to others?
Whether you choose to volunteer at The Black Watch Museum or elsewhere, there cannot be a more rewarding decision. You have to be passionate about what you are doing and you will always find it worthwhile. In my case it is The Black Watch, having followed my father into the military, the atmosphere is very friendly and the redesigned building makes it a very pleasant place to work. Although I am happy to travel from Arbroath to Perth, I only wish I lived nearer so that I could contribute more time to a very worthwhile cause.
Evelyn, thank you for your time and sharing with us just what it is like to be a volunteer at the Castle and Museum.
To find out more about the artist in the archive project click here: https://theblackwatch.co.uk/index/news-app/story.86/title.artist-in-the-archive
To find out more about volunteering at the Castle and Museum click here: