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My Life as a Volunteer with York Castle Museum – Steve Pickard

In 2013 I took early retirement after 43 years as a Local Authority Housing Officer. I have always had an interest in Military History and my brother-in-law, who is a guide at the Yorkshire Museum suggested I apply as a volunteer with the Castle Museum.

My first volunteer session after my training was Hands on Here! Gas Masks. I was buddied up with a volunteer who had several years’ experience and presented my first session in front of a class of teenagers. It seemed to go well and the rest is history so to speak.

I’ve since done lots of Hands on Here! activities, including Weapons of War, Camouflage, WWI Medals, Lee Enfield Rifle, Napoleon’s Waterloo, and my favourite which was Helmets, working with three helmets from the English Civil War period (my favourite period), a Tudor helmet, a WWI Brodie helmet and a modern army helmet from around 1980. The public were allowed to try on the three English Civil War helmets and it was very popular with visitors.

I started giving talks on various subject linked to the WWI exhibition in 2014 and in 2015 I also became a costumed volunteer in Kirkgate, the museum’s famous Victorian Street.  I have a vested interest in the Pharmacy on Kirkgate, as one of the wall units came out of my father’s old shop in York.  Explaining some of the old remedies to the public is one of my favourite pastimes.

More recently I’ve also done research into the history of the York Castle Site and its role as a prison. I was given the task of researching the Jacobite period which I found really interesting, and I learnt many fascinating aspects of the role of York Castle Prison in that period. Read one of my blogs here.

What I enjoy most of being a volunteer with York Castle Museum is the varied activities available, and more importantly interacting with members of the public. I have been told some really interesting stories by visitors to the museum.