Volunteers’ Week Blog
This week is the 30th anniversary of Volunteers’ Week, and we
want to thank our 20,000 plus volunteers who work year-round to
provide first aid in communities up and down the country. Hear from
our volunteers, in their own words, about what their role means to
Markand Patel, Museum Assistant
National Volunteers’ Week marks one year since
I began volunteering the Museum of the Order of St
John. The Museum tells the story of how the Order of St
John was formed in Jerusalem and grew to help
people internationally through humanitarian work.
I am proud to volunteer at the Museum – and
very much agree with Nelson Mandela’s (who visited the Museum in
2004) comments that St John taps the most generous and caring human
impulses. Volunteering has been an incredibly valuable experience
and has helped me grow as a person.
For much of the past few years, I was adrift
and not quite sure of what I wanted. This sense of meandering came
from my childhood. During the 1970s my parents moved from Uganda to
England at a time when there was great social change as well as
some unfortunate prejudices and discrimination. I grew up living a
sheltered, strict, religious life. But the Western world offered
opportunities for me, and museums were the one place I always found
refuge and enjoyment.
In my adult years, after a few wrong turns, I
started thinking about what I wanted from life. I thought back to
the comfort that museums brought me in my childhood, and realised I
needed to work somewhere that could bring me enlightenment and
The history of St John drew me in.
Volunteering at the Museum has been a little like feeding the soul.
I’m proud of the work I’ve done, such as completing a detailed
catalogue of all the furniture in the museum to help secure funding
for a furniture conservator, and create a new library for old
medals, medallions and a variety of other cherished objects. I have
also had the opportunity to go on first aid and fire marshall
By volunteering for a cause, I am a part of
something bigger than myself, and it has given me more
confidence. The opportunities I have been given through
volunteering has allowed me to open many doors, meet new people and
learn about the operational side of the organisation, too.
The most impressionable part of my experience
has been the friendly staff and fellow volunteers I work with. I
have met so many people, and found their advice and friendship
invaluable. Their dedication is something I aspire to and hope to
emulate and carry on in the future.
To learn more about Markand’s role, please visit our
Volunteering section. The Volunteers’
Week is an initiative of the National Council for Voluntary