In celebration of National Volunteer Week, we spoke to one of our amazing volunteers Libby, who has dedicated over a decade of her time to work with the Foundation at the Ipswich Hospital Museum. She has a wealth of knowledge about nursing, medicine, and history, plus a real passion for research which she has used as her special way to give back to the community. We are very grateful for all her hard work which keeps the history and memories of Ipswich Hospital alive for all to enjoy.
“I started at the museum as I didn’t want to just sit at home, I wanted to do something meaningful and as a volunteer, I could contribute to society and my local community.”
Libby had actually been with the Ipswich Hospital long before she started volunteering, working as a registered nurse in the operating theatres, for an impressive 39 years.
Over the time she was there, she became fascinated by how the technology and equipment had significantly changed.
The equipment and instruments she collected and information she documented has been paramount to informing and educating other people today.
“When I was working in the operating theatre, I was a bit of a hoarder… I kept some of the equipment over the years, photographs and stories of the people that had worked there to be able to share these experiences with others to come”
She finds being able to use her research skills to help others piece together parts of the past is the most rewarding thing about volunteering.
“I love delving into history and unearthing all the untold stories about the hospital, people who have worked there, or helping people find information about relatives who may have passed there in 1800s or early 1900s.”
“We also get lots of requests from overseas, including a doctor from the US who was doing some research that we were able to help. We compile everything so they will be kept for the staff and hospital people that come after us. This way it won’t ever be lost.”
The team at the Museum consists of 8 volunteers and Libby enjoys the fun social aspect and the fact that they might come from different professions and backgrounds, but they all share a common passion for history, research and helping others.
“We’re a small group but everyone is very enthusiastic and we share an interest in the history. Everyone has a lot to offer and are very talented in what they do, especially research. We love it, we’re like pro detectives who look into people who have worked there, find things out for relatives, and uncover stories to be told.
Because of COVID 19 we can’t go in but we’re still researching and have an online meeting every fortnight to discuss progress and swap ideas. It’s also really social which I really enjoy.”
Without the hard work and dedication the likes of Libby do in their spare time, we wouldn’t have the abundance of knowledge about the past that we do today. Volunteering is a huge part of Libby’s life and when asked if she would recommend volunteering to others, it was a wholeheartedly big YES.
“Yes most definitely! Volunteering gives you a sense of contributing to both society and your local community; it’s a very worthwhile job. If others share the same passion, we’re always on the lookout for people to join us!”