This month we talk to Neil Hobson who joined the volunteer team in 2013 following the Museum redevelopment.
Having retired, I found something was missing, although I played some golf “poorly”. It eventually dawned on me, what I needed was contact with people. So having seen the advertisement in the local press for volunteers at Balhousie Castle I saw an opportunity. Having been a volunteer now for a year, I have found that Balhousie Castle offers a challenging yet friendly environment; I enjoy being a part of a professional team.
I know that you undertake two roles at the Museum; a greeter and a tour guide; can you tell us about them?
As a greeter I enjoy engaging with members of the public. As I greet them when they enter, I am their first impression of the overall experience at Balhousie, and I want it to be a positive one. It is my aim to both seem professional and friendly when performing my role as greeter, as I know how important first impressions can be.
As an ex-member of The Black Watch, serving for 23 years in total, the Regiment has been a large part of my life and is something I am both passionate and knowledgeable about. Through guided tours I can share this with others, who are either curious about or interested in the legendary Black Watch, or are in some way connected to it. When people come to the museum, and see the artefacts and hear about the people, they are connected to the history of Scotland and this fine regiment, and even to the lives of people no longer with us, which can often be very moving.
What is it that keeps you volunteering here?
Having worked for all of my adult life, as comfortable as retirement was I seemed to have a lot of spare time on my hands having always been used to working. Balhousie has not only given me something to work towards and fill my time with, but it has also given me an opportunity to re-connect myself with The Black Watch, and has given me a chance to work in the field of history, another passion of mine that I never fully pursued. It filled the void that retirement left, but without the stress! I also feel like I am providing a service to people who visit who will enjoy their visit and experience as much as I enjoy the job; it’s a win-win situation.
What has been the highlight of your time whilst volunteering?
Although there have been many great times at the museum, the highlight for me had to be meeting HRH The Duke of Rothesay.
Would you recommend volunteering at the Castle and Museum to others?
In short, yes! It’s a wonderful environment and a fulfilling role.