I don’t usually come into the Mills Archives on Fridays but I am really glad I did last week because I was introduced to Guy Boocock. The name may ring a bell because Guy has volunteered here 2 days a week since November 2010 and has accomplished some really amazing things in his time as a volunteer.
I spoke about Guy in my last blog because he was doing a presentation about the Geoff Holman collection for the SPAB Spring meeting last week. Guy is so easy to chat to I found myself basically asking for his life story! He has gained so many achievements in the last 5 years and his unwavering passion and constant upbeat personality makes him a really exciting person for me to write about. Not only is he volunteering here, but he is also studying history at university, starting in October last year AND he has his own genealogy business where he conducts research for people who want to learn more about their family history. Guy is no stranger to archives as he previously volunteered at the National Archives; however, he says that he prefers working at the Mills Archive because it concentrates on a more specific subject and it is not your average archive.
I can definitely see where Guy is coming from here because at the Mills Archive, it feels like every single collection is personal, emphasising the social and family history in each one. Everyone working at the Mills Archive will have had a part in taking care of these collections and this personal touch makes it a really rewarding place to be a part of. In my first week Liz and Mildred actually drove out to visit a gentleman with a collection at his house and this is just another example of the staff at the archives going the extra mile to ensure that every single visitor gets the time and care they deserve.
Whilst working at the Mills Archive, Guy has won TWO Vodafone Achievement Awards. In 2011 with Nathanael and in 2012 with Liz. The Vodafone World of Difference Scheme allowed 500 people to be chosen to work for a charity of their choice. In Guy’s Vodafone blog he states that he used his 45 days to catalogue the Stephen Buckland collection which was donated to the Mills Archive when he died in 2006. Guy concentrated on trying to organise and catalogue the notebooks, correspondence, research notes and unpublished material collected by Stephen which was all stored in over 114 boxes! When reading Guy’s blog it was clear that he was quite attached to Stephen after viewing his collection, even though he had never met him. Guy’s dedication to doing Stephens’s collection justice is clear when he talks about it and now, thanks to Guy’s hard work, Stephen’s collection is safely stored on the catalogue for everyone to enjoy.
The second Vodafone World of Difference Scheme Guy took part in focused around the Niall Roberts collection which was given to the Mills Archive when he died in 2010. This collection sounds fascinating as it was focused around international mills such as rice mills and Caribbean sugar mills. Guy said this research was invaluable because there is so little of it in the database. Once again, he couldn’t help doing a mini biography about Niall on his Vodafone blog because a person’s collection is not just about the collection itself but also the face behind it and why it was special to them.
Guy said that another one of his greatest achievements was the ‘Holman Brothers Millwrights of Canterbury: A History’ book he contributed to. I spoke about this in my last blog and I am pleased to inform you that his presentation went down very well at the SPAB meeting!
Guy ponders that he feels like he has moved on from being a volunteer and Elizabeth laughs that he is now ‘part of the fixtures and fittings’! Listening to Guy and Elizabeth is hilarious (especially on a Friday afternoon!) as they both joined the Archive at the same time and get on so well. Guy joked that he would like his very own chair. One day Guy, one day! Guy really enjoys the variety of information they handle and he loves having the opportunity to do some in house research.
Guy is passionate about family and social histories and he loves the ‘sport of the research’, which is why he started volunteering here: it is never boring and each collection is completely unique! Stephen Buckland stated that he was not a ‘distinguished mill-buff!’ but here at the Archive, you don’t have to be a ‘mill-buff’ to have an interest in the lives of others and we are so happy to receive any kind of collection no matter how big or small. Guy has a special skill of letting his passion come through in the collections he works with and he brings them to life not only with the family history but the story behind the collector themselves, which is important because without their donation, the Archive would not be growing as successfully as it is today.