Heritage Open Days 9-18 September 2022 - What will you discover?

That Friday feeling?

For the last six months, my Fridays have involved interesting discoveries, deciphering flamboyant handwriting on application forms, improving my (very southern based) geographical knowledge, and a fair amount of tea. I’ve been volunteering at Heritage Open Days national office as an administration assistant, and it’s been fantastic. If I’m honest, I’m quite sad to leave.

© Alec James - Livi (3rd from right) helping out at the Summer Solstice at Stonehenge

From the moment I listened to Sarah’s cheery voicemail back in March inviting me to come in for a chat about the volunteer position I’d applied for, I knew it was going to be a great experience. This hunch was confirmed when my induction meeting was punctuated with tea and a plethora of biscuits. Tea and biscuits aside (although important), volunteering and Heritage Open Days has been, without a doubt, my best volunteer experience to date. I have had the opportunity to work on a wide range of tasks, develop my CV and meet some wonderful people along the way.

At the start of my volunteering, registration had just opened and my day consisted of opening mailed registration forms from organisers. There was always a moment of excitement as I opened each envelope and read the description, or discovered a remote village with an usual name (needless to say my geography has improved no end). As momentum for the big event built, I had the opportunity to help with mail outs and press highlights, as well as responding to visitor enquiries first hand, which was a genuine pleasure. 

For me the joy of volunteering at Heritage Open Days wasn’t just about discovering wonderful places and buildings, but having the chance to hear from all the wonderful people behind these places. It was pretty much impossible to leave the office at the end of the day without a smile on my face. I found the passion and genuine love that the organisers have for their local heritage quite infectious. The same goes for the team at the national office, I’ve been completely inspired by the dedication of the small (but perfectly formed) Heritage Open Days team. If an ounce of their consideration, poise and enthusiasm has rubbed off on me I’ll be chuffed. 

Sentimentality aside, I came to volunteer with Heritage Open Days to build my CV and develop my administration skills, specifically in the heritage sector. I’ve certainly done that, and more. I’ve had the chance to work with an event and contact database and hone my Microsoft office skills under Sarah’s wonderful (and patient) guidance, learn about how to give a top rate TV or radio interview at the media training led by Annabelle and Nicola, and even got to take part in some ‘extra-curricular’ volunteering at Stonehenge with Sarah and Nicola at the Summer Solstice. I received plenty of support and training throughout my time at Heritage Open Days but was also given enough responsibility to feel like a valued part of the team.

It’s impossible to volunteer with Heritage Open Days and not look forward to coming in in the morning, when you’re working with such a friendly, professional team on such a unique and worthwhile programme volunteering is just a pleasure. Perhaps, I’ve enjoyed my volunteering too much… I’ve already told the team that I’d be back in a flash next year if I could. I’ll miss you, Heritage Open Days, thanks for all the tea!