Towards the end of 2015 I was thinking of organising a visit for the Friends of Rye Art Gallery (FRAG) to the Bethlem Hospital, to see the work of Richard Dadd at their newly refurbished Gallery and Museum. I also thought we could include a pub lunch as part of the trip.
Gill and I accordingly went to see if such a visit was practical. We were the only visitors that morning and speaking to the volunteer on duty we were impressed by her enthusiasm, ‘our gallery and museum acquired a lottery grant, everyone has worked so hard, we are so pleased with the improvements. . .’
This was not just a volunteer who sat in the gallery, this was a volunteer who was part of the gallery, this was a volunteer who was proud of the gallery, this was a volunteer who had a stake in the gallery and she clearly wanted to tell us all about it. Was she a Trustee, or something similar? No, she came in just one morning a week, but she clearly felt part of the organisation, as all volunteers should feel.
That is the lesson that the present Trustees of Rye Art Gallery need to learn, whether they are Stormont Volunteers, Committee members, Friends of the Gallery, or indeed the Trustees themselves, we are all volunteers who add to the whole and should be treated with respect.
I never did arrange the trip to Bethlem Hospital, but if you are ever passing through Beckenham, it is a small museum and gallery that is worth a visit, full of enthusiastic people.
Paddy Harvey is acting Chair of Friends of Rye Art Gallery