Mole Valley Heritage Open Days Organising Committee, Surrey
Rod Shaw from Mole Valley District Council has led the local steering committee for Heritage Open Days since its first year, over 20 years ago. In recognition of their exemplary work the group won a 'Star Organiser' award in our special anniversary honours in 2014.
Why I take part
The event has gone from strength to strength and is now established in the local calendar; it’s great to be involved in something that is popular and gives enjoyment to many people. I am proud of the heritage and culture of Mole Valley and HODs is a great platform on which to promote it. And working on HODs brings me into contact with a wide cross section of the community - the volunteers from museums, churches and heritage societies, the commercial sector and the public sector. I’m always amazed at the talent on display during HODS; it is lovely to be a part of all that.
What I do for HODs
I help the organising committee in the area to develop a programme of events each year, contacting individual organisers, ensuring events are registered, compiling the booklet and working with colleagues in the District Council to promote the events locally.
The difference it makes
I believe HODs makes people appreciate and value their surroundings more. It helps to bring the community together, recognising that they have a shared culture and heritage of which they are a part. It gets people talking to one another and often connections are made that are surprising. The events we organise satisfy people’s curiosity and I think it encourages them to explore. We live in a beautiful area and are quite privileged, but it is easy to take it for granted and HODs reminds people, not only of what they have, but of the layers of history and the complexity of their cultural legacy as well as of the people who have made it what it is today. Every year I work with new people and discover people with a passion for some aspect of heritage that I know nothing or very little about. The depth of knowledge within the community never ceases to amaze me. It has definitely made a difference to the way I work because my own knowledge has increased but, more importantly, I get to know a greater range of people within the community and they get to know me. These relationships are important.
What's surprised me
That I am still involved after all this time! HODs has a way of renewing and presenting itself every year. I never thought that we had enough material and resource to keep going, but I was wrong.
My top tip
If an aspect of heritage holds a fascination for you, then it will have a fascination for others too. Share it.