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Training grant – developing a volunteer training programme
The Jacobite Heritage Museum was awarded £250 towards the costs of running volunteer training sessions.
‘Development Programme’ Design
The programme had two fundamental interactive purposes:
- to develop the front of house interpersonal skills of volunteers as they meet visitors and,
- to launch the process of accumulative learning about the content of the museum’s exhibitions and the associated heritage.
These are addressed with formalised inputs and mentored action learning exposure with visitors. They are reinforced by share and compare discussions and socialisation with already practising volunteers.
The development of front of house skills always begins by exploring the array of ‘visitor welcoming openings’ but clearly, progress to assist visitors’ appreciation of the museum requires the parallel development of content knowledge and understanding. Since the museum’s context is the saga of the Jacobite claim to regain the thrones of Great Britain and Ireland after the overthrow of King James VII & II in 1688 that is the necessary starting point, although why and how King James VI of Scotland succeeded Queen Elizabeth I to all the thrones in 1603 and the regicide of King Charles I quickly follows. But the specific content focus of the museum is the particular Battle of Prestonpans fought on 20 / 21 September 1745 and the personality of the leader there, Prince Charles Edward/ Bonnie Prince Charlie.
The research and publications of the Trust were immediately available for take home reading alongside websites, YouTube, DVDs, music CDs and apps. For the seriously scholarly, there is of course a vast Jacobite catalogue of research, memoirs, maps and artefacts covering the century long ambitions of the Jacobite’s until the deaths of Prince Charles Edward in 1788 and his brother Cardinal Prince Henry Stuart in 1807.
All new volunteers have a different starting point both on front of house skills and content knowledge and understanding. Growth and development on both dimensions within the framework of the reinforcing social community the museum offers, reportedly enriches the lives of our volunteers. And the individual mentoring provided ensures that different preferences and competences are respected and deployed as may be feasible to best advantage within then team and for the benefit of visitors. And to conclude, the feedback from the interactions between visitors and volunteers is a rich source of inspiration for improvement and for future research initiatives.
Gordon Prestoungrange, Chair, 1745 Battle Trust