Meet the Volunteers - Shrewsbury Flaxmill Maltings
A woman in period costume dressed as a mill worker
Get involved at Shrewsbury Flaxmill Maltings

Meet the Volunteers

Volunteers are valued here at Shrewsbury Flaxmill Maltings, they give us their time and support to deliver a wide range of activities, ensuring that our visitors have the best possible experience. Whether it be leading a tour, assisting in the running of events, or just offering a warm welcome in the Shop, our volunteers are integral to the Flaxmill Maltings. Have you ever wondered what its like to volunteer here? Read a selection of testimonies to find out more.

Jenny Blackaby – Volunteer Exhibition Steward, Guide Support, Flax to Fibre Project

A photo of two people digging in a garden
Jenny Blackaby – Volunteer, Flax to Fibre project

Its an exciting time to be a volunteer at Shrewsbury Flaxmill Maltings. I always enjoy talking to visitors in the Exhibition and answering their questions about the Mill, as some have travelled a long way just to see the grandparent to the modern skyscraper. Whilst those more locally are excited to see what has been revealed since the scaffolding was removed. I believe that a great part of volunteering is learning from the experience of the visitors.

I also support the Jubilee Tower tours, and assist with holiday activities and school trips. In the Spring I even had the chance to try my hand at digging and preparing the ground for planting flax seeds. I find volunteering such good fun!

Deryk Green – Volunteer Tour Guide

A man standing in front of an Eighteenth Century brick building
Deryk Green – Volunteer guide

Shrewsbury Flaxmill Maltings is a site that interests me, with its many Grade 1 and 2 listed buildings, it has a real place in Industrial and Social history. As a Behind the Scenes tour guide I enjoy guiding people around the Main Mill building and its other supporting buildings. I explain the history of the Flaxmill Maltings and its connection to industry, both in our lives and hopefully in our local future too. I work as part of a dedicated team, who are all friendly and supportive, its a real privilege to be allowed to guide people around the amazing Flaxmill Maltings.

Dick Allen – Volunteer Tour Guide

I’ve always had an interest in local history, so was aware of the importance and background of the Flaxmill Maltings buildings. I even remember the smell of the Maltings when it was working!

So I was delighted to see a call for volunteers about 6 years ago, just after I had retired. Surprisingly few people locally were aware of the Flaxmill Maltings history; I was pleased to be able to spread the word – and I hope some of my enthusiasm – in a customer facing role. 

Those 6 years have seen many changes; the finishing of the first stage of the amazing restoration, and of course the issues we faced with Covid. I greatly enjoy volunteering – primarily as a Tour Guide. One of the many advantages of being a volunteer is being able to choose how much and when one contributes. And getting to see the terrific views from the top of the Jubilee Tower on a regular basis!

Sadie Thompson Volunteer Exhibition Guide

A photo of a woman standing in front of shop shelves
Sadie Thompson, Exhibition and Shop Volunteer

I love working as a volunteer at Shrewsbury Flaxmill Maltings as it is great to be part of such an iconic building.  Overtime I have developed skills in customer service and have learnt so much about the history and technology involved, which has helped me with my learning and progress when working as an Exhibition Guide.

Volunteering here has been extremely beneficial and I have been involved in a variety of tasks such as; helping out on the front desk to assisting with Arts & Crafts workshops and events.

I love the interaction with visitors and meeting the public from all over, sharing my passion and knowledge with them as well as talking about their interests. The staff are really friendly and supportive, they encourage you if you want to try new aspects of the job and are very forthcoming with any new training opportunities.

Edel Slawson, Volunteer Guide, Learning, and Clothing Club

A photo of a woman wearing an eighteenth century period dress and hat.
Edel Slawson

I started volunteering for the Shrewsbury Flaxmill nearly 2 years ago when the Flaxmill was just opened. It’s a very exciting place to be and the volunteer opportunities are very flexible and can be fitted round other commitments.

I initially started volunteering in the Exhibition helping people with interactive displays and talking to people about the history of the Mill. Then with some training I went on to work in the shop and become confident enough to use the till to sell tickets and have really enjoyed that too. There is always someone round to help you and you are never left on your own unless you feel confident.

After a few months I started doing the behind the scenes tours first as a helper then actually as the lead on the tours which was amazing and so enjoyable. Since then I have been wearing some 18th century costumes on the behind the scenes tours which I have put together myself and  which brings to life the history of this amazing building. 

There are lots of events going on throughout the year at the Flaxmill and you can volunteer for as much or as little as you feel able. The Flaxmill is just a lovely place to volunteer  and the staff are very encouraging, always making you feel a valued member of the team.

Richard Bonella, Volunteer Tour Guide and Speaker

A tour guide, giving a tour to a group of people in front of an Eighteenth Century building.
Richard Bonella Volunteer Tour Guide

Richard had seen the Mill long before he was really aware of it. “I was stationed at RAF Shawbury over forty years ago, and I would have driven or cycled past the Maltings every day, without giving it a thought.  In 2010, living and working in Shrewsbury, I got involved with the Flaxmill Maltings, to support the efforts of Historic England and the local authorities towards returning the then-derelict site towards a useful purpose for a third century.”

“After an expert introduction to the site and its buildings, we volunteers began acting as tour guides on open days.  Tours included the ascent of the southern barley silo, since demolished. The views were impressive, but repeated ascents were hard work for the guides.  Around the rest of the site, with limited access to the interiors, we spoke of our aspirations for it, once the necessary work had been funded and carried out.” 

“Today – well here it is.  Historic England, their architects and contractors have done a hugely impressive job. The structural integrity of the Main Mill and the Kiln has been restored, the stopped-up windows re-opened and the holes in the floors bridged over.  It’s possible to climb to the viewing platform on the Jubilee Tower for a fine view of the site, the town, and the hills beyond.  And aside from the Exhibition and Cafe on the ground floor, the upper floors are being let to a variety of tenants as modern offices. I do think that its important to show the work that has been done to as many people as possible.

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