Category Archives: volunteers

all about our volunteers

Hush-hush no more

The award itself

The award itself

Now when there was a press release and everything, I no longer have to keep quiet. Do you remember the big thing we were all preparing for? Well, now I can tell you that we won an award for all our volunteering work from Archives and Records Association. And it is actually a national thing- the Archive Volunteering Award. The judges were unanimous and were very impressed that we did so much with so little.
There was the award presenting ceremony in our archives, that’s why we all worked so hard. That evening the room was full of big wigs: we had three people from ARA presenting the award, guests from the Plymouth’s Volunteer Centre and other outside organizations, various people from different Marjon’s departments and even out vice-chancellor. We wanted to show our guest all the projects we made and when it was put all in one room it was a lot. When you work week-to-week on your part of the project, helping other volunteers with one thing or another, you really miss the scope of the whole undertaking. You think about your project as that small thing that you do for the reasons of your own and don’t give it a second thought. But the world is watching and then you realize: whatever you do has an impact.
But don’t take my word for all of it. Check it out for yourself:

Leave a comment

Filed under Marjon pride, volunteers

101th Thing You Wouldn’t Expect to Be Doing in Archives


Arts and crafts is a skill useful for a Marjon archives’ volunteer

I have written on many occasions that we’re not the normal, run-of-the-mill, dusty and dark archives. Ok, we have plenty of dust and I could get a dark corner or two if I had to. But with the people we have contributing we’re nothing like some archives I know (I’m looking at you University of the Capital of Devon!). And the 101th thing you wouldn’t expect to be doing in the archives is…flattening bottlecaps. And before you start calling mental health crisis team on us, let me explain. Soon we will have a major action that combines recycling with the Remembrance Day (I bet you never expected to hear those two words in one sentence:-)). Operation Poppyfield is an action that aims to build a poppy field from discarded bottlecaps in honour of the students that gave their lives in the wars. The bottlecaps need to be flattered, painted red and mounted on a stick to make a recycled poppy. We have issued a challenge to residence halls to collect as many bottlecaps as possible. *shameless braging alert* And if you’ll be on campus anytime soon, keep an eye out for the flyers advertising the action. They were designed by yours truly. *end of shameless bragging* We need over 1000 bottlecaps to make the field happen and let me tell you, that’s A LOT of flattening.

Leave a comment

Filed under inner workings, special occasions, volunteers

New from old

I’ll interrupt the scheduled programme to tell you this story:

Our new map display in full

Our new map display in full

The word for this week is ‘upcycling’. Upcycling is not the term you’d normally associate with archives. There is a conflict between the idea of preserving and the idea of reusing. Old fortresses were sometimes deconstructed and the building materials were used to build other things, thus destroying both the place and the memory. But sometimes, upcycling can be used to preserve or illustrate the memories. Ladies and Gentlemen, here is Marjon archives’ newest project: the spare maps from the defunct

Very retro UK map has its separate place

Very retro UK map has its separate place

geography department are being used to decorate the corridor walls. But those maps are not only a decoration. They will be used to illustrate various things. The big retro map of the United Kingdom will be used to track the flow of students to old Colleges. The maps of London will be used to pinpoint the places that were connected to both schools. The rest of the maps will be a place for the volunteers to display their work. Each of us chose a place we like best. People have complicated feelings towards their places and our wall is a proof that the strongest feelings are not always towards the place of one’s birth. We chose by heart, not by the initial allegiance. I don’t know if there is a science that studies the feelings that people have for places, but there should be one.

Now I only need to find some interesting pins:-)

Leave a comment

Filed under volunteers

Our Valuable Volunteers and their Various Ventures: Alasdair

Photo0230Meet Alasdair, the archive wizard with mad skills. He is a man of patience and attention to detail, but most of all, he has something that none of our motley crew has: a real life archive job experience. He used to work for a record office and enjoyed it greatly. He even got himself into Masters programme in Archiving, but unfortunately it was not meant to be.

He said that he chose Marjon archives for the scope and variety of the collection. ‘There is so much learn and I enjoy learning’- that’s something we all feel.

Right now he is working with the official documents concerning the move that Marjon made from London to Plymouth. The timeframe for those is the 70’s and 80’s. I have seen the scope of the work that lies ahead of Alasdair and I can say that he have his work cut out for him. Right now he is extremely busy with cataloguing and arranging them in order, so they can easily be accessed when needed. This is going to take some time, that’s why Alasdair has no definite plans for his next project. However, there is a possibility that he will work with the digitization of the archives, because of his computing experience.

Alasdair appearance is good news, because If there is one thing we have, it’s the abundance of old dusty papers. And now we have somebody who knows what order they should go and is not afraid of dust mites:-)

Leave a comment

Filed under volunteers

Mark speaks at Mental Health Awareness Week event and also some shameless bragging


A small sample of Mark’s work outside of MSU

Remember Mark and his project? Some of his work is being displayed in the corridor opposite the MSU offices, so if you have minute check them out. But today he was presenting his work and the ways he copes with anxiety at a walk-in session at the private dining room at Marjon. He was showing and talking about his best work, but also explained how he uses his hobby to calms himself down in a stressful situation. Sometimes just the assuring weight of his camera is enough to reassure him, and in extreme cases he takes it out and removes himself by zooming the lens on a distant object. This way he created some beautiful artwork and became a master of macrophotography. It is not easy for some people to be in crowds and talk to a large number of unknown people, but Mark handled it like a champ and created a substantial interest in his work and techniques. Well done! And if the topic of mental health is very important to you or you want to know more about facts and myths about mental health, check out You’ll find it interesting.
20140514_190420As for shameless bragging, yesterday I attended the Inspiring Student and Led Teachings Awards ceremony where yours truly was an nominee for the Outstanding Contribution category. I got the nomination for this very blog. I didn’t win the award, but it is still nice to be recognized for the work I do with a cretificate. I had a good time, the reception was an exclusive, closed door affair, with a Sinatra-singing performer to entertain us. It was fun and I was especially happy to see some of my lecturers winning the awards as they were well deserved. Right, I’m done bragging now:-)Award

Leave a comment

Filed under special occasions, volunteers

Beyond genius loci

I have always felt comfortable around the campus. I’d say the place has a very positive feel about it. It feels youthful and full of energy, but not frantic overly busy. But there is something else beyond the spirit of the place; it’s the attitude of the people around here. Here is a prime example of what I’m talking about:

26This is the picture taken soon after the colleges of St Mark’s and St John merged. Those boys are the first mixed soccer team. The two colleges used to have teams that fought against each on the sport’s battlefield, each defending their goal posts to the last man. And now they are standing together, without proper kit’s, each wearing a different jersey, but determined to be the best team for their newly merged school.

46And on this one, forty years has gone by and here they meet again, not one of them missing. I find it amusing how the fashion made them uniformly clothed while the school could not. Also note the war memorial on the wall behind them, like a shadow of those who can never return to visit their old school.

group photoAnd finally here are we- the archive’s volunteers. We are team of people equipped with different ideas and skills, with different projects and reasons , but we all sacrifice our time and effort for the archives.
I guess that the whole Marjon is like that: a rag-tag bunch, not always perfectly organized, with mismatched equipment and chairs that wouldn’t slide underneath the tables. But would we ever let that down? Never!:-)

Leave a comment

Filed under long time ago, Marjon pride, volunteers

Our Valuable Volunteers and Their Various Ventures: D Wood.

Photo0215Today I want to present to you a truly impressive lady. D Wood is a person with an academic background and the research is something that is familiar to her. Those are some of the reasons why she chose the Marjon archives as her next project. ‘I wanted to see what kind of the archives Marjon has’ she said. Right now she is researching the chapel of St Marks, the pictures and info that concerns the building. This project might turn into a display one day, so keep your eyes open.

D Woods says that after that project end, she might look into the past of Marjon to find what kind of arts and crafts were taught here. At one point we used to teach practical trades, including woodworking and ceramics, so she is bound to find plenty of materials to research.

What really impressed me about her is the amount of work she does pro public bono. Marjon archives are her third volunteering project. She is involved with the Plymouth Arts Centre, especially with their film programme. She is a part of the ‘Arts and Minds’ programme, that just started its run. It involves art classes for people with early dementia to help them exercise their minds and motor functions. If you’re not impressed with that, there is no hope for you:-)

So there you have it, a volunteer who actually knows what she’s doing:-)

Leave a comment

Filed under volunteers

Our Valuable Volunteers and their Various Ventures: Ron

We had a nice influx of new volunteers recently, so once again I can pPhoto0195roudly present one of the people who offer their time to the archives. This week I’d like you to meet Ron. Ron is 68 years old and had just retired after a full career as a mechanical engineer.

This change in his life has left him with a lot of free time. He decided that this is a great opportunity for him to expand his horizons and exercise his mind at the same time. It is never too late to develop one’s mind and Ron is doing just that, using his ‘golden years ‘ to pursue new things.

Ron is a person with a head full of ideas. At the moment his project is concerned with researching the history of the Battersea Club. However, Ron has a long-term research plans and ideas. He is determined to research the masonic influences in Marjon because of his personal interests. He also admitted that he had a family member that was a Marjon’s student. His grandfather attended Marjon somewhere around fifties or sixties, so he will definitely take some time to track him down and see what informations we can provide about him.

I can say that Ron caught our ‘archive bug’, just as I did when I came here. ‘I want to be here even when I’m even older and dustier.’ he said. We all are surely glad to have another dedicated person onboard, the more the merrier.


Filed under volunteers

Our Valuable Volunteers and Their Various Ventures: David.

Let me introduce you to the newest member of our voluntary team. David came to  Photo0165us the usual way, through the volunteer centre in Plymouth. His background is in mental health and counselling, but he felt it was high time to look into different alleys of interests. ‘I don’t want to study people anymore, I want to study things.’ he said. From the beginning he had his heart set on volunteer in in a museum or a university. David loves history, but it is the first time he pursues his historical passions in an active way. David is a person gifted with an inquisitive mind and great attention to details.

His project has all to do with the state of the education in the Victorian times and its comparison with the current one. Back then both access and attitude towards it was very different. Having children in the education system, he is often astonished how often the education is being taken for granted today.   The project is in still its initial stages and it is still unknown what kind of shape will it take. Right now, David is researching the subject and making notes in preparation. I believe this project will truly be something special. I can’t wait to see how it will turn out.

In the future, David want to pursue more projects, perhaps something involving an outreach program for young people. I can only admire such dedication and patience. This would be a truly ambitious project.

Leave a comment

Filed under volunteers

Our Valuable Volunteers and Their Various Ventures: David

Today I bring you another dose of the volunteers’ profile because of the timetable chaos that inevitably rose from the beginning of the academic year.

Another person that sacrifices his time for the good of the archives is David. David moved to Plymouth 20 years ago and fell in love with the rich history of the region. His inspiration was the very old wall that was left from the Stonehouse fortifications. This contact with a real part of history made motivated him to volunteer his services at Plymouth Volunteer Centre. Through them he found Marjon archives and stayed, since that suited his historical interests best.


David is our veteran volunteer, since he participated in the project titled ‘One man’s life- the search for John Coulson Babbage’. It is still displayed on the wall outside of the archives.

This brings me to his current project, which I find extremely important. He is the driving force behind the digitization of our archives. ‘If anything happens to that room’ he pointed towards our very cramped archives ’a fire or something, we could lose it all.’ In this I strongly agree with him. We are slowly approaching a two hundred years’ worth of accumulated history, yet we are very behind in our care for it.  We need it preserved and easily accessible, not only for the history buffs, but also for everybody who would research it for some reason or another. With his background in IT and 3D modelling, David is more than qualified for this very serious project. I hope it can get off ground very soon because you know what they say: ‘tide and time wait for no man’ and the longer we wait, the more work is to be done.

Leave a comment

Filed under volunteers