Volunteer Blog: Pam Russell

I originally saw a newspaper article about the impending arrival of a museum in Biggin Hill around 4 years ago, and thought to myself how much working at such a place appealed to me. I felt I would make every effort to support the museum and hence the memory of all those wonderful heroes and heroines who sacrificed so much.  Little did I know then how it would come to fruition.

I have always liked aeroplanes from a very early age, probably starting when we lived along the flight path into ‘Ringway’, now Manchester Airport. My Dad and I would also go to the airport, spending hours plane-spotting, in the days when you could get really close to the aircraft.

It seemed a natural progression then that I should apply for a position as cabin crew with British Airways, flying out from the same airport. I was accepted and I totally loved the life, had wonderful times and now see just how lucky I was!  After a few years, I moved airlines in order to become a Flight Director, and in this role I was once again able to utilise all my people & situational skills, which in turn I now bring to the museum.

When I moved down to Biggin Hill from Cheshire, to be with my boyfriend, I was blown away as we drove passed the Spitfire & Hurricane at the main gates for the first time. I just could not believe how close we were able to be to those wonderful aircraft. I am still in awe every time I pass by, forty years later.

So, in a way, I have come full circle in being in the very happy situation of seeing, being with, and visiting those beloved icons every time I am ‘in’ at the museum. I was very happy to be accepted for a volunteer role at the museum late last year, and enjoy carrying out whatever tasks are required, for each and every situation, be it welcoming, PR, administration and/or catering, and using my various skills, learnt along the way, to this end. After a few months I became a Visitor Experience Assistant, which includes me now working various specific hours, as well as allocated volunteer hours, and carries a few more responsibilities, resulting in my now also helping to look after memberships, stock and some accounts.

I love trying to make every persons’ visit to the museum a welcoming, memorable occasion, and the best experience possible, and hope that they will learn something new about the war years, and the people of Biggin Hill and beyond during those times. At the present time, I am also in the process of compiling some background information and details on the first Director of the Women’s Royal Air Force, Dame Felicity Peake, who spent time here at Biggin Hill in her early career. In due course I hope to be presenting a talk on her life, though I am quite apprehensive about this. My knowledge of the museum isn’t half as much as some of our great tour guides, and ‘talkers’, but we all support each other, so I’m sure they’ll provide some hints and tips.

I find my time at the museum so fulfilling, and happily spent, which is in no mean part due to my lovely colleagues, who I now also see as a second family. We have a great camaraderie, which definitely shines though.

Happy Days!!