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Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Egypt Centre Collection Blog

Monday, 3 June 2019

Volunteering at the Egypt Centre

This week the Egypt Centre is pleased to be participating in Volunteers' Week, which is a chance to celebrate and say thank you for the fantastic contribution millions of volunteers make across the UK. It takes place 1–7 June every year and is an opportunity to celebrate volunteering in all its diversity. During the week, hundreds of events and celebrations take place across the country, saying thank you to volunteers and recognising their invaluable and diverse contribution to the UK. Several events will be taking place at the Egypt Centre (fig. 1). For example, on Wednesday we will be announcing the results of our Highlights of the Egypt Centre poll, which will form the basis of a small booklet.

Fig. 1: Volunteers' Week at the Egypt Centre

Without volunteers, the youngest of whom is nine years old and the oldest over ninety, the Egypt Centre simply could not function. We have a full-time Volunteer Manager, Syd Howells, to oversee a diverse group of approximately 150 volunteers (fig. 2). These volunteers are often student placements from home and abroad, others who have mental health issues or learning difficulties, are long-term unemployed, or people who simply want to give back to the community. We are particularly proud of our child volunteer programme, which has been running since 1999.

Fig. 2: Volunteers with their certificates at the 2019 Volunteer Awards ceremony

Volunteers welcome our visitors, demonstrate the public activities (senet, mummification, and the materials handling board), answer enquiries, and give guided tours (fig. 3). They also work as educational leaders for visiting school groups and workshops and are closely involved with the development of hands-on activities with the Education and Events Officer. Many adapt activities already on offer by making props to enhance the activity, such as headdresses, wigs, etc. Volunteers also pilot new activities before they are offered to our visitors. Some volunteers help with shop duties serving customers, answering enquiries, and carrying out general reception and administrative duties.

Fig. 3: Child volunteers training on the Egypt Centre materials board

Over the years the Egypt Centre volunteers have been the recipient of many awards. In 2010 the volunteers won the Wales Volunteer of the Year Awards (Group of the Year). The young volunteers have won the annual Diana Memorial Award seven times (2011–12, 2015–19), which is the most important accolade a young person aged 9–25 can receive for their social action or humanitarian work. The most recent (2018), and certainly the most prestigious, is the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service. This is equivalent to the MBE and is the highest award that can be made to a voluntary group (fig. 4).

Fig. 4: Barbara Miles and Seth Marshall receiving the Queen's Award

On Friday the Egypt Centre hosted the annual Volunteer Awards ceremony, which is our own way of honouring the hard work of the volunteers. We were delighted to welcome our new Vice-Chancellor, Professor Paul Boyle, who was accompanied by the Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Professor Martin Stringer. The top prize for the evening was our Volunteer of the Year, which was deservedly won by Carolyn Harris (fig. 5). The day after the ceremony, we received the following words from Carolyn, which really sum up what volunteering at the Egypt Centre is all about. "What a huge surprise (not to mention shock) to receive such a wonderful award for doing something that actually gives me a lot of pleasure. It's just the best thing to feel that your efforts are valued and appreciated. However, it's very easy to work with so many lovely people in the Centre and I would like to thank everyone for making it so enjoyable. Volunteering with you all has added an extra dimension to my life." Congratulations Carolyn! 

Fig. 5: Carolyn Harris receiving her Volunteer of the Year award from the Pro-Vice-Chancellor Martin Stringer
--   Sent from my Linux system.

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