Preserving our historical environment

Posted on the 3rd June 2018

I have been a volunteer for Historic England National Archive on the Enriching the List project since August 2017. I match up pictures held by Historic England with List records for West Somerset. I have been very disabled since 2015, prior to that I was a Town Planner for 28 years with experience in local government and consultancy.  I am unable to work and am a wheelchair user.

I volunteer for Historic England as the volunteering can be undertaken at home, using my laptop and the internet, with no time pressure. Since my disability, I have been unable to write or type with both hands. I have a great love of the historic environment and I have also been a Somerset resident for 27 years. This project enables me to combine both my passions and do something worthwhile, subject to fatigue.

I support Volunteers’ Week and wish it every success in increasing the amount of volunteer time devoted to the many projects covered by the initiative.

I love volunteering for Historic England which has benefited me personally through developing my knowledge of historic West Somerset, enabling me to continue to do something worthwhile despite my disability.

A view of the Tarr Steps stone clapper bridge over the river Barle in Somerset, which dates from the medieval period.

A view of the Tarr Steps stone clapper bridge over the River Barle in Somerset, which dates from the medieval period. Credit: Historic England.

The most enjoyable thing I’ve done since volunteering for Historic England is identifying and selecting the images of Tarr Steps in West Somerset. Tarr Steps is an ancient footbridge and an important early crossing point which will be forgotten about unless (amongst other things) it is highlighted in the List. You can see how the images from our Archive have ‘enriched’ the List description of Tarr Steps below.

Volunteering is great as it enables me to continue to contribute to the understanding of the historic environment without any time pressure and volunteering from home within the limitations of my disability.

Volunteering for Historic England has given me back a sense of self-worth within my limitations.

Tarr Steps. Credit: Historic England.

Another view of Tarr Steps. Credit: Historic England.

I find it enjoyable, helping others make more effective use of the Historic England Archive. It is a voyage of discovery finding the historic images available within the Archive for List records.

Without the contribution of the volunteers on the Enriching the List project, it would take longer and possibly wouldn’t have gone ahead. Every time the Archive List is updated, the more effective it becomes for users of the list.

I would recommend others to volunteer for Historic England, it’s perfect for those passionate about the historic environment.

Mark Fox

Mark is a volunteer with Historic England National Archive on the Enriching the List project

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