National Volunteers Week 2021

National Volunteers Week 2021

National Volunteers week 2021 is perfect timing for us to share some messages with you and our volunteers.

Since PK first opened our volunteers have been a major part of the running of our day-to-day activities and we would not be able to do what we do without them!

Head of Operations & Visitor Services, Steve Bladon says:

Our volunteers underpin everything we do; from the archive to the interactive displays, from researching exhibitions to supporting our environmental projects. Without our volunteers’ contributions, we would not be able to offer the engaging visitor experience that is at the heart of PK Porthcurno.

Over the last year we have missed seeing more of our volunteers in person. Those volunteers that can, have all continued to support us in many ways.


Our Trustees have met with our senior management remotely to advise and support through this difficult time. Trustee Gareth Parry writes:

The collection and archive at PK Porthcurno are one of if not the most important relating to the history of communications in the world.  In this digital age we have learnt how communication technologies allow businesses to succeed, friends and family to keep in touch and even medical advances to be shared.  Our museum tells a story of how we got here that fascinates our visitors and friends.  As a trustee, I am proud to be associated with this story.

The technical team

Our Technical volunteer team have been through a few ups and downs, but some have still found a way to meet up locally, when restrictions allowed, to talk through ideas and keep in touch.

A message from Learning Facilitator, Paul Tyreman:

Over the last year we know some have been unwell at times, we wish them well. Specific things to say thank you for are to John Nash for keeping Regen in the Bunker going, Chris Ridley working on the video loop displays and of course Rob sorting the public Wi-Fi!.

Chris Ridley was happy to share why he enjoys volunteering with us:

Becoming a technical volunteer at PK has given me the chance to meet some incredibly interesting people and share their knowledge and work experience, most of which has been very different from my own.  It has certainly opened my eyes. I think a lot of technology students would benefit greatly from seeing and understanding the level of ingenuity and skill shown by engineers of the past with a tiny fraction of the resources available today, and that if now they are able to see further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants*.  PK is a community and the technical volunteers an engineering sub-community within it, which I have often described as the ‘Gentlemen Who Lunch’ as the liveliest discussions happen over tea and sandwiches at midday.

*Isaac Newton – top guy.

From the Archives

Head of Collections and Learning, Charlotte Todd, has this message of thanks to share:

For over five years our dedicated team of Archive Volunteers have been cataloguing and scanning photographs from the archive collection. These range from views of telegraph stations around the world to cable ships, VIPs to technical equipment, royal visits to groups of staff. Their hard work means that these photographs will now be able to be viewed by anyone anywhere when our collections go online in December this year. This could not have been achieved without them.

An image from our Archive of staff at the Cocos Telegraph Station scanned by our one of our volunteers:

Citizen Curators and International Research Interns 

This year the Citizen Curators (CC) are working as part of an exciting new project titled PK150 Connected Collections, funded by Arts Council England. All the Citizen Curators are students at Exeter University, partnered with an international student based globally at locations associated with telegraphy.

PK150 Connected Collections is an international project to enable remote access to the PK archive and to explore it from new perspectives. It is part of a larger project to create a searchable online collection database for the Porthcurno website. More info on this project is here:

Young Curators and the Zodiac Project

Our new Young Curators have been very busy working remotely on transcribing the contents pages of ‘The Zodiac’ staff magazine as part of the Zodiac Project.

We have students from Falmouth and Exeter university working on this project as well as two students based in Australia. The students in Australia are doing a remote internship with Porthcurno. Alongside the transcription they have written two blogs about the history of telegraphy in Australia (to be published on our website very soon) and about how the undersea cables have recently been added to the NT Heritage list.

Raquel Coning is a Young Curator and volunteer at PK Porthcurno. She is currently living in Perth, Western Australia and is studying a graduate certificate in studies at The Australian National University. As part of her studies, she has completed an internship with PK transcribing volumes of ‘The Zodiac’ magazine. She says:

I thoroughly enjoyed my internship with PK. I originally decided to do this internship to see if this would be something I would want to do as a future career, as I had always wanted to do something with archiving and transcribing. As I had no previous experience in transcribing or anything to do with museums, I was a little nervous, but Alice was so welcoming and helpful… Through this experience I now have a better idea of what type of career I want after my studies.

A message from Archive Research Facilitator, Alice Howard:

I am really enjoying working with all the students, the Citizen Curators, Young Curators and Research Interns. I am very grateful for all the time that they dedicate to their projects as it is very exciting to hear their perspectives on the history of communication and what we hold in the archive at Porthcurno. In September there will be a symposium where they will present their work.

The Young Curators have been working on transcribing the contents pages of ‘The Zodiac’ magazine,. This is an invaluable contribution for researchers. Thank you to all the young curators who have helped transcribe, including Raquel, Isabelle, Bianca and Natalie who have done such a brilliant job!

Coming back soon……….

Our Engagement volunteers contribute to our programme of learning events throughout a more normal year.

A message from Engagement Curator, Kay Dalton:

Thank you to our volunteers who continued to support our regular STEAM Explorer sessions for 7- 12-year-olds and things to do during events and school holiday activities pre Covid. You are a vital part of making our museum accessible to our family visitors. We look forward to welcoming you all back to PK to support us again very soon!

Pre Covid the Front of House volunteers worked on the ticket desk- meeting and greeting, serving in the shop, answering visitors’ questions, and giving talks and demonstrations to our visitors. We look forward to welcoming you back.

Our enthusiastic group of knitters and crafters the Cable Stitchers took a break to keep safe over the last 14 months, but we have continued to stay in touch as they are an important part of our community that have in the past created fun additions to our exhibitions, including our very popular flock of knitted carrier Pigeon Pals!

We look forward to welcoming them back to PK soon for tea, coffee, biscuits, and some more lively company!

Finally, we would like to say once again a massive Thank you to all our volunteers and we look forward to seeing you all again soon!

For more information about volunteering with us visit

National Volunteers Week 2021
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