The volunteering scheme at the National Football Museum is believed to be the largest of its kind in the country, with a 70-strong team on the museum’s book at any one time and members hailing from a diverse range of backgrounds.
The volunteers come from all walks of life and help out in lots of different ways, from organising Subbuteo matches to sharing their memories.
Over 100 people have offered their time since January last year.
One volunteer, John Priestley, has been working with the museum since the programme began. John was introduced to the local charity Back on Track after becoming homeless and secured a six-week placement on the museum’s volunteer programme.
“I loved it,” said John. “They liked me. I’m enjoying volunteering and helping visitors. There’s a brilliant team effort at the National Football Museum. Coming here is the best thing I’ve done in years.”
Another volunteer, Homero de la Cruz, worked as an engineer in the oil and gas industry in Mexico before coming to the UK to improve his English. Currently enrolled in language school, Homero has been improving his language skills on the weekend by talking to visitors about his passion for football.
Vince Goddard, who was at Wembley to see England win the World Cup, responded to an advert for volunteers to conduct 1966 tours. “Everything fitted into place – and I’m loving it,” he said.
Allan Maull came to the museum with a background in retail and a love of all things football, and has become something of a poster boy for the volunteer scheme, sharing his knowledge of football history with younger generations and swapping stories with older visitors.
He said: “The most rewarding aspect of volunteering at the museum is working with the Sporting Memories Group, using football to help older people to reminisce and share their memories.”
The volunteer scheme has already had many success stories.
“While many of our volunteers have been with us from the start, others have moved into employment or gone on to further volunteer placements with other organisations,” said Darren Collingwood, the Museum’s volunteer programme manager.
“As a charity ourselves, we rely on the volunteer programme to make the museum as accessible as it can be. From showing visitors around to painting displays, it really has benefitted the museum.”