David Thomas interviewed by Matthew Hick


Oral history interview with David Thomas conducted and recorded by Matthew Hick on 17 July 2012, at the National Railway Museum. Duration: 1 hour. Background; starting as a volunteer, campaigning for York as NRM site, site requirements, museum opening 1975; Friends of the National Railway Museum (FNRM) group established, Lord Downs, member of Stephenson Locomotive Society, joined FNRM; [00:03:40] FNRM details, membership, presence at NRM, how volunteering began; DT stopped volunteering early 1980s due to work pressures [00:06:10] maintaining contact with FNRM; stewarding trains, examples, organising York Evening Meetings (1994), York FNRM Evening Meetings, details, numbers, benefits to FNRM; [00:09:00] volunteer recruitment; end of 1990’s, volunteer recruitment and training co-ordinator (autumn 2000), information points and miniature railway volunteers, Claire Evans, background in training and recruitment, detail, job satisfaction; [00:15:50] other aspects of volunteer recruitment; formation of millennium volunteers in York, opportunities to get younger volunteers, reservations, failures, developing records, IT development, volunteer database development; [00:22:10] volunteer management; volunteer manager (Kate Wadden) appointed (2002), coming to terms with having a manager, success at working together, volunteer manager success across museums in the group, continued when Matt Thompson appointed, links with other volunteer officers, job satisfaction continued; [00:27:00] volunteering development; Railfest 2004, Matt Hick impact; [00:29:00] what drove the first volunteer push; concern to move volunteer recruitment quickly, contributory factors in helping recruitment; [00:32:30] why NRM increased volunteer numbers, recordkeeping on volunteers, value of volunteers; reasons for recruiting more miniature railway volunteers, not enough drivers, recruited 10; [00:34:10] driver training provided by Director of Engineering Richard Gibbon; [00:35:00] Back of House teams; Tuesday night team managed by Rich Gibbon, changed when Richard Gibbon retired; [00:36:50] highlights whilst a volunteer co-ordinator; satisfaction of people who were recruited and stayed, some still at NRM; [00:38:00] changes in volunteer recruitment, applicants with “their own agendas”, now recruit against a job description, applicants with impediments, improving inclusivity in recruiting volunteers, turning down applicants, dealing with difficult cases, museum needs to “get what it needs”; [00:43:00] roles at NRM; would have liked to have been involved in locomotive support, linked to family history, role carried out like in professional career with British Telecom (BT); [00:45:00] last 12 years; enjoyment, good support, enjoyed working with Claire Evans; shock of having a manager; Railfest 2004, challenges managing volunteers, keeping up with changes; [00:48:00] change in relationships between staff and volunteers; more co-operation and co-ordination, closer links with learning team; [00:49:50] change in relationship between the volunteers and FNRM; [00:51:00] Why NRM appointed a Volunteer Manager (Kate Waddon); DT volunteers 1 day per week and for FOH volunteers, appointment to cover whole spectrum of volunteering, volunteering in better shape now, very positive development; [00:53:00] reflections on own volunteering experience, no disappointment overall, found it difficult in 1 day per week role, keeping pace with what is happening; [00:55:50] how family views his volunteer endeavours; [00:56:20] aspirations for future volunteer programme; get people that the museum needs, questioning impact of economic crisis on future of volunteering [00:59:36] [end of interview]

Oral history recording made as part of a NRM oral history of volunteering initiative led by NRM volunteering team between 2012 and 2015, with the aim to record the voices of people sharing their volunteering experiences at the National Railway Museum, including NRM colleagues supervising volunteers.


Corporate Archive
Object Number:
oral history interview