Sun. May 22nd, 2022

Isle of Wight Observer News

The Island's Free Newspaper

VECTIS VIEW: IW Bus and Coach Museum

3 min read

Looking back only a few years, I wonder how many of us could have imagined a situation in which a global pandemic would change much of what we had previously taken for granted. These days there are few areas of life that have not been touched by this new reality. While the effects vary across individuals and organisations, the heritage museum sector has certainly encountered some new challenges.
Many heritage attractions have been adversely affected by the limitations on public opening, which has only been partially offset by grant funding. However, we are now seeing an increasing return to at least a degree of normality and it is to be hoped that the Island will enjoy healthy visitor numbers in 2022. Like it or not, and some residents clearly don’t, tourism makes a major contribution to the Island economy.
The Isle of Wight Bus and Coach Museum (IWBM) is a charity, run entirely by volunteers. Originally located at Newport Quay, a move to the former Southern Vectis bus depot in Ryde occurred in 2014. Since that time the museum has grown in terms of vehicles and artefacts, as well as reputation. Until the pandemic, visitor numbers were increasing, year-on-year, especially during our highly-regarded operating weekends in the spring and autumn.
The Island is often said to have a strong sense of community and the IWBM does its utmost to promote this in Ryde and the surrounding area. We work closely with Ryde Town Council and other organisations to promote other Island attractions as well as our own. Unsurprisingly, we have a good working relationship with the IW Steam Railway, with many IWBM members also supporting the IWSR, and vice versa.
Although a relatively modest attraction by some standards, the IWBM needs a lot of people to run it. Not only the higher profile front-of-house functions, but also a number of essential ‘back office’ tasks. In keeping with other similar organisations, we are looking at succession planning; an increasingly important topic due to the age profile of our existing volunteers. We are fortunate in having the services of some very skilled and experienced people across all of our activities, but times are changing.
It is intended that the IWBM will attain formal accreditation and the groundwork is already underway. A significant part of this process is undertaking a fundamental review of all aspects of volunteering. This is itself is a major consideration, given that Covid has changed the outlook of many people. An enforced focus on personal aspirations during the various lockdowns has, in some cases, affected the inclination to give time to others, yet volunteering can be rewarding on a number of levels.
As a heritage attraction, the IWBM has a duty to pass on knowledge and skills. With several vacancies in various roles, we would welcome newcomers. Believe it or not, we have several roles that do not require any special expertise, although an ability to get on well with other people is a fairly basic requirement!
Volunteering offers many benefits to the individual. It can have a positive effect on mental health through engagement with others. It can provide structure and focus. Best of all, it supports the efforts of those who founded the IWBM in 1996 and who have laid the foundations for our current successes. If you have never considered volunteering before, now might be a good time to start. If you are interested, contact us via the IWBM website: iwbusmuseum.org.uk/contact. We would love to hear from you.