Meet some of our volunteers
With a strong fascination with local history, as soon as she retired Sue Corbel started volunteering with Jersey Heritage, first behind the scenes at the Archive in Clarence Road and then as a Visitor Host at Elizabeth Castle – welcoming and assisting visitors. But soon Sue was also stitching the 13th panel of the Occupation Tapestry, created as a community project to mark the 70th anniversary of Liberation and now on display in the Occupation Tapestry Gallery next to the Maritime Museum. The German Occupation is an important subject in Susan’s life – she painstakingly transcribed and recently published her father Philip Le Sauteur’s Diary of Jersey under the Swastika.
In 2016 Susan started volunteering as a Guide at Elizabeth Castle, giving Tours of the whole site with a history that spans several centuries. In 2016 Sue researched and wrote the script for a Tour of the Barracks Hospital Block which is the last remaining example in the UK and has been made accessible to visitors for the first time in several years. This year Susan is continuing to do more research about births and deaths at the Castle, which entails spending time at the Lord Coutanche Library, the Archive and the Registrar’s Office looking at records, which she describes as “a fascinating insight”.
Astra & Derek Denton
This is a husband and wife who both volunteer with Jersey Heritage and together make a really great team!
Astra Denton is a costumed Living History re-enactor who demonstrates needlecraft skills – quilting and Jersey bonnet-making – on Friday mornings at Hamptonne. Astra also regularly works alongside Derek, who is a craftsman woodworker, in a team of volunteers supervised by Luke Winter of Historic Concepts Limited, who over two years have built a replica Neolithic longhouse at La Hougue Bie. The construction process has involved use of traditional hand tools, authentic techniques and a lot of hard work. Now almost complete, the longhouse will provide a unique educational resource for the Island. Volunteers will continue maintaining the building, interpreting it for visitors and demonstrating skills including making pottery, weaving and woodwork.
Inspired by his parents’ commitment, Astra and Derek’s son Christopher has also signed up as a Neolithic longhouse volunteer.
As a multi-talented volunteer, Derek has used his photographic skills to record individual coins from the Iron Age coin hoard at La Hougue Bie. He has also helped to restore the interactive dolls house in the Merchants’ House Nursery at Jersey Museum, by providing a replacement front door, and is one of the cider makers at La Faîs’sie d’Cidre at Hamptonne.
When she was a sixth form student, Alex started volunteering with Jersey Heritage as a Guide at Elizabeth Castle, then she helped the retail department in Pop-Up shops at the Castle and at La Faîs’sie d’Cidre at Hamptonne. During her gap year before going to St Andrew’s University in Scotland to study history, Alex balanced several volunteer roles and tasks with part-time jobs.
Alex’s input was huge and varied for the preparations of the exhibition Bergerac’s Island: Jersey in the 1980’s at Jersey Museum – Alex did research, scanned JEP photographs and scripts from the Bergerac TV series, painted the inside of display cases in the exhibition gallery etc. The Director of Curation & Experience who curated the 1980’s exhibition, Louise Downie commented, “She is an absolute star!”
Alex has now returned to volunteering as a Site Guide on Elizabeth Castle, where she will be covering gaps in the schedule, enhancing the visitor experience throughout the summer, doing Tours of the whole site and explaining the history of the Barracks Hospital Block as part of the Love Your Castle campaign to raise awareness and funds for much needed restoration.
I arrived in Jersey in 2010 in a car loaded to the brim with my husband, two toddlers and two cats. Not knowing anyone or having any family on the island was a slightly daunting prospect so I thought volunteering would be a great way to meet people and also a chance to get to know this lovely island.
I have done a variety of things over the years – from administrative tasks for Julia at the office to flag mending to assisting Registrar Jason Castledine with the audit of the museum store at Augrès. This was especially fulfilling – I felt really privileged to be in close proximity with old historical objects, most of them unique to this Island and many of them beautiful.
Now I am volunteering with the team building a Neolithic Longhouse at La Hougue Bie! This has included digging holes, stripping bark, gathering willow, daubing mud and thatching the roof. When the opportunity came up to be involved in the Neolithic longhouse build I was apprehensive that I was going to be more hindrance than help as I am not skilled in that aspect but everyone was kind and so willing to teach. Everyone's success has been genuinely celebrated and we have grown to be a very close knit team. I would encourage anyone to come and get involved.
The thing I enjoy most about volunteering with Jersey Heritage is that it makes me feel included and part of a great community. I have the pleasure of meeting so many people from all walks of life and it really has been an enriching experience. Volunteering means giving up my time but the rewards I get back from doing so are tenfold the effort I put in. I may not be Jersey-born – I’m from Singapore – but being involved with JH has made me feel passionate (and protective!) of this island's history and I want to be able to do all I can to preserve its heritage for future generations to come.
Edward Le Couteur
A keen archaeologist and talented artist, Edward Le Couteur has volunteered with Jersey Heritage for the past four years. Edward began volunteering as a Visitor Host - at Jersey Museum and at La Hougue Bie - giving visitors a warm welcome, information and help. In 2016 Edward was a Guide for the Ice Age Island exhibition at Jersey Museum and each summer he has escorted visitors to the archaeological dig at Les Varines, explaining the
importance of the IAI project - the site and the finds.
Edward has also enthusiastically helped to build the Neolithic longhouse and although in paid employment regularly volunteers five days a week. Edward has also trained to be a Guide at La Hougue Bie, learning a script so that he can explain the site’s fascinating history that spans several millennia – from the 6,000 year old Neolithic tomb to the medieval chapel, when the site was a Victorian pleasure garden and the memorial to those labourers who were forced to work during the German Occupation 1940-45.
Volunteering with Jersey Heritage has helped to increase Edward’s knowledge about the history of his native island, his practical skills and also his confidence.
After re-locating to the Island, Karen quickly proved herself to be a dynamic and adaptable volunteer – Karen trained to be a Guide at Gorey Castle where she delivers Site Tours. As a keen gardener she has also helped in the vegetable and herb gardens at Hamptonne.
Karen has also helped at various events and exhibitions including the 2017 Love Your Castle Open Day at Elizabeth Castle, a Members’ Preview of Bergerac’s Island – Jersey in the 1980s at Jersey Museum and she volunteered as a Guide for the Ice Age Island archaeological excavation at Les Varines in 2017 and 2018.
Karen explains, I saw the recruitment adverts for volunteers while researching the island prior to moving to Jersey in early 2017. I felt volunteering with Jersey Heritage would be a great way to learn about my new home, encourage me to get out and about and to meet people. Both Mont Orgueil and Hamptonne have amazing histories and it is lovely being able to share my new knowledge with visitors...
Volunteering is keeping me busy and I am enjoying all aspects of it. The team at Mont Orgueil are really lovely to work with and I enjoyed doing gardening and site maintenance at Hamptonne…I absolutely love the place and would be more than happy to do more volunteering there.
A retired secondary school teacher specialising in Information Technology, crafts and woodwork, Dave has been volunteering with Jersey Heritage since 2015 in several roles.
“My thanks go to my friend Noel Le Fondré, a Jersey Heritage volunteer who introduced me to the cider making team. For just two days a year, a small, friendly team of hard-working Jersey Heritage volunteers carry and crush apples, press the pulp and ferment rough cider in the “old” traditional way at La Faîs’sie d’Cidre, which takes place annually in October at Hamptonne Country Life Museum.
I first empathised with Stone Age man (and woman) when I designed and built my own house by the Thames in the 1980s. The satisfaction of protecting your family from the elements and putting a roof over their heads with your own hands cannot be beaten. So the chance to volunteer to help a team build a replica Neolithic longhouse was too good to miss - especially as along the project you meet such interesting and fascinating individuals, all with different skills. Our leader Luke Winter encourages so many questions about ancient techniques. As well as new skills and knowledge most of us have developed friendships.
Over two years we have spent approximately one week per month (with hours to suit individuals) at La Hougue Bie. Based on sound historical and archaeological evidence we try to replicate methods employed in Neolithic times. It’s amazing that a sharpened cow’s bone can cut a groove one inch deep in solid oak timber almost as quickly as with a steel chisel. This has to be seen to be believed! Using wooden wedges will split a mature oak tree trunk into planks one foot wide and two inches thick. I have also witnessed team members using stinging nettles to make rope, and even cloth, and have experienced bending a willow stick around my finger before binding rafters together with a rose knot. So many ancient technologies often forgotten…
My volunteering includes being a Site Guide, taking small groups around Hamptonne and explaining its history, and a Visitor Host welcoming and helping visitors at West Park ferry kiosk and Elizabeth Castle. Apart from the benefit of good exercise, walking around I now see Jersey in a different light, meeting tourists who appreciate our lovely Island. It’s great to feel part of the Jersey Heritage team, meeting and interacting with staff e.g. the ferry crew and Living History re-enactors including Gunners and 1781 Militia guys and girls, and other volunteer Guides - all with amazing interests and depth of knowledge.
Volunteering with Jersey Heritage gets me away from daytime TV and the sofa! Not to mention the volunteer card, a reward for volunteering which enables me to visit Jersey Heritage sites for free.”