The first week of June was Volunteers’ Week and 91-year-old Freda Chapman has been reflecting on how much she’s enjoyed her years of volunteering at Haslemere Museum.

“It’s very satisfying,” said Freda, who started volunteering more than two decades ago. 

“I was a teacher by profession and I was very involved with the Embroideries Guild. Thirty years ago, we used to meet at Haslemere Museum, and that’s how I got involved in helping the museum to catalogue its textiles collection.”

Freda began working at the museum as a volunteer for two days a week. “It’s very exciting because you’re always learning,” she explains.

Now 91 years old, Freda has cut down to one day a week and is currently working on a collection of textiles from the Balkans. “It’s wonderful,” she says.

“We link with other museums which have similar collections and we often have parties of students visiting from universities. 

“It’s lovely to think how the students are looking forward to the future while also looking backwards at the history of old textiles.”

Freda would encourage people to take up volunteering. 

She said: “It’s very rewarding, especially if you have a special interest. And the staff are very pleasant.”

Many not-for-profit organisations rely on contributions from volunteers. Haslemere Museum has a long tradition of volunteers who are involved in all aspects of running the museum, from greeting visitors to cataloguing collections and gardening.

“We are indebted to the outstanding work done by our team of dedicated volunteers,” said museum chairman, Melanie Odell. “Without people like Freda, the museum couldn’t provide its services and preserve our cultural heritage”.

Volunteers’ Week is celebrated every year in June to recognise the contribution of volunteers.