Val Sweetlove

I was lucky enough to retire at 55 but knew right from the start I would miss social interaction with colleagues and that my brain would need some sort of exercise! Retirement gave me the opportunity to retrain and at first I spent a couple of years doing something completely different and qualified as a Reflexologist. This I loved very much but still missed the buzz of meeting lots of people. I began my “volunteering career” by helping out in a charity shop in Broadstone but one day whilst walking past the Information Centre saw a notice in the window asking for local volunteers. Wimborne being nearer to home I made application and a few weeks later in early January spent my first day with the Manager stock taking! Since then I have not looked back. The Information Centre has always been part of Wimborne and used by visitors and locals alike. It is great helping people out and as volunteers we always feel appreciated by the local community. My computer skills are kept up to speed and I love the interaction with the public. An added bonus of volunteering is the great friends you make. I also volunteer for the Friends of Victoria Hospital as a Trustee and find this too very rewarding. If you were thinking of volunteering then the newly refurbished Information Centre is always on the lookout for people with good communication and computer skills – or perhaps you would like to cover some shifts in the museums delightful tea rooms.


My name is Sally Palmer and I started volunteering at the museum in early 2012.

I come from a banking background but have also been a scout leader for nearly 40 years.

I started volunteering as I had retired 2 years earlier and tried part time work, but wasn’t enjoying it, so thought I would try something different. I looked into working in charity shops but that didn’t appeal, then I then met a friend at a council gathering of local community volunteers and she introduced me to a Museum volunteer. We got talking and I decided to give it a try, and I am still here today.

I like volunteering because you are not really tied down to specific days and if you need a day off it shouldn’t be a problem, and you meet people from all walks of life.

As I work in the education sector I have learnt a lot about history, especially the Victorians, and I hated history at school!

I have recommended the museum to a few people, especially the tearoom, as it is a very friendly place to volunteer.

Gardeners rolling grass


My association with the Museum started just after the middle of the last century. By that time, I had acquired, from a retired farming lady in Verwood, her set of early 20th century butter making equipment. These were used to demonstrate butter making in the Wimborne Festival of 1961, (was this not the first one?), and shown on Southern Television. As I was about to travel around the Wessex area, I entrusted the Priest House Museum to use and look after these Agricultural Bygones.

I returned to East Dorset in 2005 and started as a Room Steward the following year. In those days there was a steward at all times in the Victorian Kitchen. This was my Saturday P.M slot. In 2007, I was asked if I would take over the composting and rubbish removal in the garden. This over the years evolved into becoming one of the volunteers in the garden and has been ongoing ever since. Combined with helping in other areas as and when required, and time permitting.

Volunteering gives one a purpose in life, gets you out and about, develops other interests, meet other people, keeps the brain active, and last but not least, keeps the body active with physical exercise. Doing a regular slot of volunteering gives one a fuller picture of the overall running and management of the Museum. This can all help to aid the overall picture/viability of the Wimborne community.

One of the main reasons for now spending more time in the garden is: The garden is based upon the old medieval burgage plot and runs from the High Street to the mill stream. As a child in the late 1940s and food rationing was still going, a treat was to come into Wimborne, visit the Corfe Mullen Dairy (on the corner of Mill Lane) and have boiled egg for tea, off ration. In those days, the garden ran down to the mill steam, which impressed me and remained in my mind. What have we with the Museum garden. Down to the stream. If one small child today gathers an impression of the Museum Garden on a visit, as we try to keep it in an informal state but tidy, and remembers it in 40 or 50 years, then my volunteering has been worthwhile.

For the right sort of person, volunteering can be most enjoyable, fun, educational and extremely satisfying.


Kayleigh,a local student, interviewed Sue as part of her English A-Level “Time Stitched” project. Listen to Sue talk about her work within the museum as a Trustee. Sue believes each and every member of the community should be valued and a dementia friendly community is a cause very dear to her heart.

Marjorie Bailey, Learning Volunteer

Listen to the museum’s valued Learning Team volunteer, Marjorie, talk to a A-Level student, Kayleigh, about how she became involved with the museum.

Jill Clampin, Volunteer

Jill was interviewed by local A-Level student, Kayleigh, as part of her “Time Stitched” project. Listen to Jill’s experiences as a young woman growing up in the 1940s and 50s and how she came to be involved with the Museum of East Dorset.

David Morgan, Previous Chairman of Trustees

Listen to David talk to Kayleigh about his memories and life experiences which have shaped the man he is today.

Brian Holloway, Learning Volunteer

Listen to Brian talk to A-Level student, Kayleigh, about his childhood experiences and how he came to be involved with the Museum of East Dorset as a much valued volunteer.