European Heritage Days

Journées européennes du patrimoine
Volunteers Share their Perspectives on European Heritage Days

The celebration of European Heritage Days heavily rests upon the help of volunteers. In most countries that participate in the event, volunteers represent the driving force within the organisations associated with it. For these talented people, volunteering represents an opportunity to not only participate in an event of this scope, but also explore European heritage from a different perspective.

Unsurprisingly, European Heritage Days volunteers are proud of their contribution and are ready to share their experiences online. Their stories reveal a new kind of enthusiasm for our common heritage and add new meanings to it.

Last year, David Thomas shared his experience as a volunteer at Chetnam’s library during 2014 Heritage Open Days in England, United Kingdom. In what could have been just a regular day in his life, David decided to learn more about his local community and the history of his town.

In 2015, Laura Coventry wrote about some of the best kept secrets of buildings in Scotland, United Kingdom. She has been involved in the social media promotion of the event, which enabled her to learn more about the local history, as well as blogging and social media.

“I have learned many things, but one of the big surprises for me was discovering how many Doors Open Days events happen during the month of September – did you know that this year more than 900 venues open their doors?!”

In the nearby Wales, United Kingdom, over 1,800 volunteers were reported to have participated in the organisation of Open Doors programmes by delivering heritage trails, conservation talks, tours, lectures and exhibitions. This makes Open Doors the largest volunteer event in the heritage sector in Wales and an excellent opportunity for local youth to learn more about the historical values of their towns.

Similarly, Norwich HEART volunteers in England, United Kingdom are recognized for their contribution to the organization. In relation to their work, Carrie-Anne Elsden, HODs Project Assistant at Norwich HEART says:

“From the local history buff organising an eye-opening walk through your town’s past or the residents of that past-century gem throwing open their doors to visitors; to those community groups bandying together to deliver their village’s ‘cluster event’ or a pop-up heritage centre; from the event stewards to the photographers and social media whizzes supporting the coordinators at the national level, volunteers are essential in delivering this fantastic festival from top to bottom!”

Moreover, European Heritage Days is often supported by volunteers outside Europe. In 2014 in France, Malek Dhahri from Tunisia helped restoring the Canal Saint Martin in Paris France. For him, this was an opportunity to contribute to revealing the true value of this “mesmerising historical monument.”

By deciding to participate in the European Heritage Days events, volunteers demonstrate their readiness to take active roles in their local communities and promote European common heritage. Their inspiring stories should encourage anyone with similar interests to join the celebrations and become a part of this special tradition.

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