I volunteer because I want to be part of something bigger.

My first tour of Stirchley Baths, Summer 2014.

I have been volunteering on the Stirchley Baths project for 18 months. My involvement began when I noticed a tweet about a social media surgery happening at Loaf. On a very dark and miserable February evening, Nick from Podnosh tutored myself and Jon from Belfour Beatty in the ways of blogging. 

Having not blogged before it took a little bit of time to get to grips with uploading photos and video. And in those early days I would never have guessed by summer 2015 I’d have posted over 20 of the things! I’ve even contributed blogs to Birmingham Conservation Trust and Birmingham Museums Trust, all off the back of that one session!

TASCOS Bakery Stone.
TASCOS Bakery Stone.

The subjects of my blogs have felt like a world of discovery. Previous to living in Stirchley I knew very little about the village. I have since discovered the social enterprise that was TASCOS, that there were three mills along the Rea, the original bakery stone from 1891 and ghost signs galore!

Not only that, but I have met some great people. I’ve been fortunate to meet special groups, of which Stirchley is full to bursting! Groups like S.U.R.N, SNF, Stirchley Sessions and Friends of Stirchley Park and their four legged companions. Stirchley is a special place with a strong beating heart. The people who live and work here are always striving to improve its outlook. Where else would you find folk so passionate about planning permission and wheelie bins?

Members of Stirchley Park's 5 'O Clock Club.
Members of Stirchley Park’s 5 ‘O Clock Club.

And Stirchley is full of characters! Nobody thought anything of me taking a bear on tour during a Baths site visit. And why would they? This village has a 10 – foot gorilla for goodness sake!

I’ve enjoyed putting my heritage cap on and discovering through the 1911 census who was using the Baths and who was driving the trains and who was making the chocolate and who lived in my street!

And it’s felt special sharing people’s memories, such as a local resident who, apart from serving in the Second World War had spent his whole life here. Growing up surrounded by fields, fondly remembering the milk cart and the tram. He grew up in a time when electricity was only just replacing gas lamps, had his wedding reception at the Three Horse Shoes and raised his two daughters here; until his final farewell earlier this year.

I’ve gained so much from being involved in the project and now we are arriving at the most exciting of times- the community centre is almost finished! There’s never been a better time to get involved!

If you’d like to know more about volunteer roles contact the Baths Heritage Officer, Kate Andrews at kate@kateandrews.me

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