Gilbert White’s House & The Oates Collection held the third ‘We love our Volunteers’ Day at the Museum on 13th February 2014 – as close to Valentine’s Day as could be managed. For the first time it included Friends as well as volunteers, and it was very good to see so many members of the Friends who came to enjoy an excellent lunch and to see some major additions to the museum that have taken place during 2013. A superb cake was made by Caroline, our Catering Assistant, suitably echoing the Valentine’s Day theme with pink roses in marzipan.
Two Friends who have given tremendous and long service over the years to Gilbert White’s House and the Oates Collection were honoured on the day with presents. Natalie Mees has been a volunteer and friend of more years than she cares to remember, and in particular has worked in the Library and as the trustees’ secretary. She is a mine of information about everything to do with Gilbert White, and the relatively new Gilbert White Exhibition, installed in 2010, benefitted hugely from her knowledge.
Derick Summers is our chief Library Volunteer, and with Liz Blackburn has catalogued all the Oates Memorial Library stock. He is a great expert on Gilbert White, and also a book conservator and expert, besides being a formidable ornithologist and member of the museum’s volunteer Biodiversity Group. He is also an expert photographer, and has recorded many important occasions at the Museum, not least the opening of the Oates Exhibtion in 2012.
Natalie talking to Liz Blackburn, with Gilbert White looking on approvingly, and the Museum General Manager, Miriam Tong, presenting Natalie with a gift and a bunch of flowers. Derick looks on little knowing that his turn is next!
Miriam brought friends and volunteers up to date with everything that had happened in the Museum since the last Volunteers Day, in February 2013. In particular she mentioned the three new bookcases that have been installed in the Great Parlour and upstairs in the Gilbert White room. The bookcase in the Great Parlour houses Ronnie Davidson-Houston’s gift of the virtually complete set of the editions of The Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne, while those in the Gilbert White room have been installed to display and to store some of the natural history books in the Oates Memorial Library collection.
Derick is pictured below showing off two marvellous additions to the Memorial Library, which the museum is about to purchase, hopefully with grant support.
The book which Derick showing in the first of these pictures is a 1st edition of The Natural History of Selborne, very finely bound by Riviere, with a Fore-edge painting of The Plestor, Selborne. The second picture illustrates how the ‘fore-edge’ painting is revealed.
The second book which the Museum hopes to buy is a very rare Mitford edition of the Natural History in excellent condition, a presentation copy inscribed by John White (nephew of Gilbert White) the publisher.
If any Friend or Volunteer would like to contribute to the fund to bring these books to the museum Library, we would be very grateful.
The day was a great success, a number of friends and volunteers got to know each other better, and we hope that all have a better understanding of all the hard work that goes on at the Museum and what is being achieved with your support. Friends and volunteers may not know that the Chocolate Biscuit Club is held monthly and is another opportunity to meet fellow supporters and keep up with what is going on in the Musuem. Please contact the museum for when the next one is to be held.
As part of a new regime for The Friends, a number of new privileges have been designed to bring Friends closer to the Museum and to encourage new friends to join. A list is given below, but watch the space because the Friends Committee will be writing soon in greater detail:
• Free entry to the Museum for Friends and up to 5 guests.
• Free entry to the Unusual Plants Fair after 1pm on the Saturday and Sunday.
• The opportunity to help at events such as the Unusual Plant Fair, Gilbert White Day and Mulled Wine Day.
• A Magazine and Newsletter by e-mail
• A summer party and regular talks