Let’s welcome the new kids on the blog

“Not sure why I applied for this… but I do feel very passionate about Heritage Open Days.” Our team of regular bloggers has recently had an injection of fresh volunteers, and if there were any lingering doubts among our recruits as to whether their application was a step they would come to regret, I hope these have long since been dispelled. Because it’s time to lift the curtain on our 2013 blogger team.

© Katja Condy - Blogger reunion in April 2013. All smiles from left clockwise: Cat Jarman, Hayley Flynn, Holly Holder, Ruth Webb, Dinah Starkey, Colin Howey, Ben Goodwin, Zoe Potter, Gary Webb, Diana Terry

Six new members have joined veteran bloggers Ben Goodwin, Zoe Potter, Louise Rogers, Cat Jarman, Ruth Webb, Maggie Tan and Dinah Starkey, completing our bloggers’ dozen. Six different life stories, characters, voices and perspectives. What they have in common though is a curiosity for history and culture and an appetite to share this love with others. And without further ado, may I present:

Cheshire girl Holly Holder is the youngest on the team currently graduating in History of Art and English at the University of Leeds. Her specialism is writers’ homes and the cultural pilgrimage these places have sparked worldwide. And let me see, yes, there are plenty in our Heritage Open Days programme to write about.

Artist Diana Terry from Oldham has ample experience in heritage education and community engagement. Her ambition is to encourage volunteer-run heritage attractions to cater for different learning styles and audience needs. Severely deafened herself, Diana argues “by improving communications with disabled people we are also making the experience of all visitors better”.

As the Global Intranet News Editor at Ernst & Young, Brian Johnson’s daytime job is all about communication and he certainly knows a thing or two about getting a message across. But for Heritage Open Days he’ll leave the world of business behind to report about the highs and lows of opening up a Victorian church with the family's Golden Retriever occasionally taking the lead on his heritage explorations in Tunbridge Wells and beyond.

I doubt there are many blogs around that can claim to have a married couple on their roster as Gary Webb is following into his wife Ruth’s footsteps. She is one of our most prolific contributors, so will he prove a worthy match? Family matters aside, as Head of Landscape and Gardens at Compton Verney Gary’s heart belongs to our green and growing heritage and he has promised to take us down the garden path - you know the one that’s usually cordoned off with a chain and dangling ‘No Entry’-sign.

Hayley Flynn wowed us with her confession that anticipating the release of new Heritage Open Days highlights was like sitting next to your phone waiting for Glastonbury tickets to go on sale! Yeah, we’re so cool. But then for someone whose own blog is about amassing a national “database of locations and stories… saved from the brink of being forgotten”, it’s not that surprising that Heritage Open Days struck a chord with her.

Shining a light on the easily overlooked traces left behind by ordinary people who long lived before us is one of Colin Howey’s missions. You may be forgiven to associate graffiti with urban kids’ culture but on his rambles through Norfolk’s countryside Colin is constantly on the lookout for words, symbols, pictures drawn or carved on medieval church walls. Maybe you’ll catch the bug too?

Over the next few weeks the six will make their debut on our online stage, uncovering hidden nuggets of history, reviewing heritage highlights or compiling tips. If you like what you read, give them a virtual pat on their shoulder, and don’t feel shy to add any questions or comments either. It’s what makes blogging so rewarding when you feel you managed to connect with the world out there.