Jim Robertson paid a fleeting visit to Jarrow Hall and Anglo Saxon Farm and Village just over two years ago and has become an integral part of the customer experience, as a volunteer.
He is now calling for other volunteers to join him, as the venue looks to put greater emphasis on being a top-class community venue for South Tyneside.
Retired motor mechanic, Jim, from Boldon Colliery, is no ordinary volunteer!
He re-enacts a vast range of the crafts undertaken by village people from the Anglo Saxon period and in doing so makes the visitor experience very special. Amongst the many skills that he demonstrates are weaving on a warped loom, spinning with a drop spindle, carding – the process in which raw wool is combed so that it all runs in one direction – utilising a rotary quern to grind wheat into flour and woodturning on the pole.
He is self-taught in all of these crafts and says that his many years as a problem solving motor mechanic provided him with the resilience and patience to master the ancient techniques.
Jim volunteers at the village – which includes homes that fully replicate those that existed during the period – on Thursday, Friday and Saturday of every week and is joined by his wife, Meg, on Saturdays, who also shares his passion for crafts by demonstrating tablet weaving.
Jim, 70, said: “On my first visit to Jarrow Hall two volunteers were using tools from the medieval period to build a small boat out of wood and that was it, I was hooked. I love the outdoors and spent many years in the scout movement. Having the opportunity to not only volunteer at the village but to learn and study ancient crafts and then showcase these skills to visitors, is very rewarding.
“I love entertaining people and it is a great feeling when visitors shake my hand and thank me for sharing my skills. I would recommend volunteering at Jarrow Hall to anyone that is looking for an interest that will keep them busy and stimulated. This is a very important site for historical reasons and the link to St Bede. It also has ambitions to be a real hub for community interaction and for that reason people wanting to know more about volunteering at Jarrow Hall will receive a warm welcome.”
Jarrow Hall is also home to an exhibition and the farm includes sheep, four Dexter bullocks, two Berkshire pigs, two Iron Age pigs and two Hungarian Mangalitsa long haired pigs. There are also hares, chickens and goats that visitors can interact with at designated times.
Rebecca Maw, operations manager – Communities Groundwork South and North Tyneside, said:
‘’Jim is a much valued member of the team at Jarrow Hall, he brings the Anglo Saxon village to life and visitors really enjoy speaking to him as his passion for and mastery of Anglo Saxon life is remarkable. There are many volunteering roles at Jarrow Hall for all levels of knowledge and experience, this includes living history roles such as Jim undertakes, or you could get involved with family activities, administration and visitor services. We welcome people with existing skills but this is not essential as training and support is available from existing volunteers and the staff team.’’
For more information on volunteering at Jarrow Hall contact the reception team on 0191 4241585 or visit www.jarrowhall.org.uk/make-difference-volunteer for information on specific roles and to apply.