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 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 70 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. Last year 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 has done more research about births and deaths at the Castle, which entailed spending time at 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.
Astra Denton is a costumed Living History re-enactor at Hamptonne who demonstrates needlecraft skills – quilting and Jersey bonnet-making – on Friday mornings from May to September. Astra also regularly works alongside Derek, who is a craftsman woodworker, in a team of volunteers supervised by Luke Winter of Historic Concepts Limited building a replica Neolithic longhouse at La Hougue Bie. The construction process involves use of modern and traditional hand tools, authentic techniques and a lot of hard work. When complete, the longhouse will provide a unique educational resource for the Island. 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 and he has also helped to restore the interactive dolls house in the Merchants’ House at Jersey Museum, by providing a replacement front door.
What a team!
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 – 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 for 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 Team at La Hougue Bie! So far 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, for the past three years Edward Le Couteur has volunteered with Jersey Heritage. Edward began volunteering as a Visitor Host at Jersey Museum and at La Hougue Bie giving visitors a warm welcome, information and assistance. In 2016 Edward was a Guide for the Ice Age Island exhibition at Jersey Museum and each summer he escorts visitors to the archaeological dig at Les Varines, explaining the importance of the IAI project, the site and the finds.
Edward is now also enthusiastically helping 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 sites’ 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 has helped to increase Edward’s knowledge about his native island, his practical skills and also his confidence.
Recently re-located 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 also helped maintain 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 was 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 am getting on great doing gardening and site maintenance at Hamptonne…I absolutely love the place and would be more than happy to do more volunteering there.
Now retired from teaching Information Technology, crafts and woodwork, David Pittom originally started volunteering with Jersey Heritage at Hamptonne as a cider maker for the annual La Faîs’sie d’Cidre. Dave now also does Site Tours as a Hamptonne Guide and is a Visitor Host at Elizabeth Castle and West Park ferry kiosk. Multi-talented Dave is also on the team building the Neolithic longhouse at La Hougue Bie …and he has recently used his practical skills and tenacity to drill holes in approximately 400 sea shells needed for a Peter Pan-themed children’s craft workshop at Hamptonne!
David is yet another of the truly wonderful people who enthusiastically give their time, energy and skills to Jersey Heritage as a volunteer and share knowledge with our visitors, thereby helping to enhance their experience of our sites.