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Nothing ventured: my time as a volunteer on the Cy Grant project

It all started with a tiny advertisement in the Metro newspaper way back in March 2016. This advert was so small that a magnifying glass would be needed for some, but as with all things, it isn’t the size that matters! Jane Johnson writes about her experience as a volunteer on the Cy Grant archive project.

I had wanted to be a volunteer for a long time and in the past I have twice offered my time as a race marshal for the Race for Life charity; having done that I did not feel fulfilled in the way I had hoped, so I decided that I needed a new challenge, doing something that could help me to step out of my comfort zone and give me the ‘feel good’ factor at the same time.

Well thanks to Arthur Torrington of the Windrush Foundation on behalf of the Cy Grant Trust, I was able to do just that. I responded to the advert a week later, explained that I had minimal archive experience, but the subject matter was the thing that had grabbed me and compelled me to seek involvement.

The advert was calling for volunteers to assist with the archiving of the complete life’s work of a man called Cy Grant, someone who I had never heard of before, but now is the name of a man I will never forget.

I was involved from the very beginning, being introduced to Arthur and Errin Hussey, the Project Archivist, at an induction meeting in early May, followed by the official launch mid May and then the training throughout late May to June. Not long after this, the ‘real’ work started on the actual archiving process of sorting, collating, cataloguing and packaging in readiness for the final stage of being put into boxes.

I have also had involvement with many of the other events that have helped to promote and highlight the project and I can honestly say that I have felt proud and honoured to be part of bringing this amazing man’s vision and legacy to light. I have thoroughly enjoyed every stage of the process and seeing the ‘archive project’ being turned into the completed archive for ‘Navigating the Dreams of an Icon’ has been an incredible experience.

I have met some truly remarkable people along the way, who have all welcomed me without any preconceptions or prejudice and as a cancer survivor; this has truly meant the world to me. It has helped to build my confidence and self-esteem, having been out of work for a very long time, it felt really good to have a work focus again and to be part of a team. The fact that I was instrumental in helping to keep Cy Grant’s name and his place in history alive; that knowledge and my achievement will stay with me forever.

I would encourage anyone considering becoming a volunteer, to go ahead and do it, ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’ just find the right organisation to be involved with and give it a go, you will not be disappointed.

Find out more about the Cy Grant project – Navigating the Dreams of an Icon.

09 May 2017
Last Modified:
09 August 2018