Hull 2017 in retrospect: An interview with a volunteer

Published: Tuesday 5th December 2017 by Courtney Farrow

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The Hull 2017 Volunteers have truly been the driving force behind all of the fantastic City of Culture events this year.

Without the dedication of 2,500 volunteers, who have donated a whopping 300,000 hours, we may not have been able to enjoy some of the outstanding moments of 2017.

We spoke with Denis Price, an enthusiastic volunteer, about his City of Culture experience.

How have you found being a Hull 2017 Volunteer?

I started back in April this year and have had a fantastic, eye-opening time. In fact, just this morning, I was totting up the diverse array of events and activities I have been able to join in with.

There really has been a tremendous variety, from communications support to tours around the city and various exhibitions.

What sort of events have you helped out at?

One that particularly stands out is the Philip Larkin exhibition at the Brynmor Jones Library. I love literature and history and you really got a slice of Larkin’s life. I mean, everything was on display, from his cameras and books to his PJs!

I also guided tours around the Cairns statues on the University of Hull campus. It’s amazing how many different people you meet, they spanned from the West Riding of Yorkshire to Australia.

Another favourite moment was when I was a guide at Newbegin House in Beverley. I live in the town and the house is only ever open to the public once a year; my wife and I took great delight in viewing some of the interiors and learning its rich history.

Is there anything you didn’t quite expect when first signing up?

Well, in-between all of the volunteering you get to attend what we call master classes. The idea is for volunteers to pick up some of the content and information to pass on to visitors. I attended one with Paul Schofield, the Hull tour guide.

Now, I thought I knew Hull inside out – I was born and grew up here – but I challenge anyone to see if they know as much as Paul does about this city.

What has the City of Culture year meant to you?

You do get some cynics, don’t you? The ones who ask, “What is culture?” or “What is the point?”.

To paraphrase Martin Green, Director of Hull 2017, “Culture is the sum total of each individual’s creative endeavour”. It’s a bit of a mouthful but I agree, culture is in the eye of the beholder.

When you’re a Hull person, you have great pride in your city. And when you’re as old as what I am, you remember the days when things weren’t that good for Hull. The city has really dragged itself up and the City of Culture has been a wonderful boost.

The other volunteers would certainly say the same.

Was it this pride in your city that made you first sign up?

I’ll be honest, I didn’t realise that I could sign up at first. I had this funny idea that you had to be born and live in Hull. I was born in Hull, but I have lived in Beverley for a while now.

A friend of mine, who is also a volunteer, told me to stop being daft and gave me the motivation I needed to sign up. I can see exactly what the intention was, to lift up Hull and promote it in every way – I thought I’d have a crack at it.

It did take me a while to get used to wearing the bright blue uniform, though…

Now that the year is drawing to a close, will you continue to volunteer in any way?

There is a meeting soon at Hull City Hall where we will be discussing the legacy of the year, asking where we go from here.

I know that Martin Green is handing over the baton to a new team in order to continue some of the events. I have actually just signed up to volunteer for the Painting Power: The Art of Terence Cuneo exhibition at Hull University in January.

All the volunteers, including myself, are very interested in continuing their roles.

To catch some of the fabulous City of Culture events, exhibitions and performances, please visit the Hull 2017 website. 

Enjoy more Hull and East Yorkshire news on HEY Today

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Published: Tuesday 5th December 2017 by Courtney Farrow

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