by MAT

With the start of the Fathoming the Future project MAT will be able to offer a range of different volunteering opportunities. We are looking forward to welcoming new volunteers and welcoming back those who have been involved before, after a quieter time due to Covid.   

Here we hear about the experience that volunteer Roger Burns has had with the MAT. We hope that his account will inspire you to become involved in tasks that could include digitising archive, researching sites, writing stories and creating digital resources, these can be done either remotely from your home or in the MAT Office. This might be a few hours, a few days or a few weeks – whatever works for you.  

Volunteers at The National Archives.

Read on to find out more about that motivated Roger on his volunteering journey which began in 2016:  

I had worked overseas for the 11 years prior to my retirement back in the UK, and because of this, I had neither the time nor commitment to develop a hobby for retirement. Diagnosed with cancer soon after retiring, I was fortunate to respond well to treatment and decided that I needed to do something worthwhile, so I volunteered as an “Involvement Member” with Cancer Research UK; wanting something more, and as a confirmed landlubber with only a very distant relative who had been a mariner, fortuitously as it turned out came across the Maritime Archaeology Trust. Unsure if that was for me, as I did not have an archaeology background, I volunteered and cut my teeth undertaking online research about historical gun emplacements on the Isle of Wight preparatory to others undertaking site surveys. That was well received and I was invited to research wrecks for the Forgotten Wrecks of the First World War project. My engagement with the Trust snowballed from there, extending to drafting articles, drafting vessel service history for wreck Site Reports, and a variety of other tasks. I have chosen to undertake all my input online, and the amount available online continues to astonish me, with occasional visits to the Trust’s offices, the local maritime library and the occasional museum.  

What do I get out of it? It is satisfying when you discover information online, rewarding that my input is appreciated, I choose my own hours each day, I have broadened my maritime knowledge from near zero to much more, and my brain is thoroughly exercised. This would not be the case if the Trust did not reciprocate and I can happily say that from day one, their engagement with me has been positive and prompt, an essential consideration that I value highly because if that were not the case, I would have chosen something else to do. A recent project I was involved with, D-Day: Stories from the Walls, was Highly Commended in one of the Archaeology Annual Awards giving great satisfaction to the Trust and to me and other volunteers as contributors. 

Volunteers working on the 'D-Day: Stories From The Walls' project.

I realise that I have been fortunate in that my involvement has been more or less continuous, probably because my input is home based, but whatever you choose to volunteer for, you are in control of your own input although you should be aware that it is mostly project related, each project requiring different skillsets and differing time commitments.  

You can sign up to volunteer from the project website. Or get in touch via email if you have any questions: greta.clarke@maritimearchaeologytrust.org /  jns@maritimearchaeologytrust.org . 

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