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An oral history interview with Jill David, a volunteer with Craft in the Bay and a Friend of the Makers Guild in Wales, 18 September 2016.


The Chronicle Project is a community heritage project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and run by VCS Cymru with the aims to document the history of volunteering in Cardiff, from 1914 to 2014.

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JD = Jill David, AN = Alexandra Nita (interviewer)

[Introductions and young volunteer experiences]

AN: Alright, could you start my telling me your name?

JD: My name is Jill David.

AN: How long have you been in Cardiff?

JD: I don’t live in Cardiff. I live in Dinas Powys, which is just outside Cardiff. And I’ve been there for thirty years.

AN: Where have you lived before?

JD: Um before, I lived in London and before that I lived in north Norfolk.

AN: Right, and what made you come to Wales?

JD: Um, now I have to say what made me come to Wales, yes? What made me come to Wales? I came to work. I came for a job here. Yes.

AN: Would you mind telling us what the job was?

JD: I came to run a hospice.

AN: Alright. Did you do any voluntary activities while you were young or while you were working as well?

JD: When I was young, I volunteered – well I did um, Cubs, which is a young boy scouts, like brownies. My mother ran the brownies and a lot of the girls had little brothers and they were often asked to mind the little brothers and they said can they come too. And so we started cubs alongside the Brownies for them and I also was a member what was called the Young Farmer’s Union and we did voluntary things at the local shows. And I don’t think anything else.

AN: What kind of volunteering things would that be?

JD: They be seeing people in the carparks, taking tickets and selling things because I always worked at our village show which was always something that everybody had to do so, that was making cups of tea, looking after people at the village show. It was very much a community.

AN: What about your experience volunteering in Cardiff, or around Cardiff?

[Volunteering in Cardiff - 2:17 to 3:02]

JD: My experience in volunteering in Cardiff has been at Craft in the Bay, and also I’m a volunteer for the South and West Wales Nature reserve, I worked at nature reserve in [Llangadogh?] which is on the cliff top, which is rather nice and they have a link from Flat Holme Island where I’m a volunteer guide for the island and go out there we do voluntary work on the island, and keep the vegetation down, counting the sea birds, and painting and all those sorts of things just keep the island going.

AN: What motivated to do all these volunteering experience?

[Motivations for volunteering - 3:07 to 3:38]

JD: My motivation for doing them has been because I’ve always been a busy person. I worked all my life and I couldn’t sit at home and do nothing. It’s the same why I’m in here, I can’t sit downstairs in the gallery and do nothing so I bring my spinning wheel and I spin. I like to get out and see people and do things.

AN: What does volunteering for Craft in the Bay entail so what kind of craft activity and tasks did you do every day?

[Volunteering with Craft in the Bay - 3:48 to 5:34]

JD: Well, we do, tasks we do every day sorry, we do anything that Simon needs to do for the office like photocopying and cutting things up, putting things in envelopes, we kept the gallery tidy and we clean the jewellery, sometimes we need to do that, but most of the time we’re working, I’m working on the desk so I’m doing sales, taking money, wrapping things up, and explain to the people about the product and giving them information about the makers, tell him about the gallery because having worked here for a long time, I probably know as much about the gallery as anybody else. So if people ask about it and I can tell about the building and where we were before, and before, and before, and you know how this has grown from something very small into a very big setup. I don’t know how many makers we have now, but certainly a lot more than we had even when we first came to this building, so it’s a growing thing and I like to tell them that one of the things I enjoy when I come here is to see how the makers works develop, because people ideas change, their views change, and they create more different things as time goes on. So it’s quite fascinating to see how they changed.

AN: Did you as a volunteer help the Makers Guild to move from a location to another because you did mention you were volunteering for quite a while?

[Volunteering with the Makers Guild in Wales - 5:44 to 6:12]

JD: Yes, I helped the people move when we came from the Cory Building, that is where I started in the Cory Building, and when we moved in here, and a lot of the time I came and I was painting stands, and arranging things, scrubbing the floor in the toilets, to get the paint off you know all sorts of jobs, anything that needed to be done, and helping them to put up this place as well.

AN: And all of it voluntarily?

JD: Yes, I mean we’re lucky in that if we come down here as volunteers because it’s quite difficult for me to get here in public transport, it means I have to get a bus into Cardiff and then another bus out down here so I like to come in by car and we get a free ticket for the carpark, over in the Red Dragon Centre, which means it saves me because parking anywhere down here for a whole day can be extremely expensive.

AN: What made you volunteer with Craft in the Bay in first place?

JD: What made me volunteer in first place, I met Molly, I think you’ve spoken to Molly, haven’t you? Who’s one of the original makers when they were in the Old Library in the centre of Cardiff, and I also met her, they also had a little shop in Cowbridge, and I went there and Molly made a plaque for my house with the number on it she made this little things and I talked to her about the Craft in the Bay and she explained to me why they started, so I knew her from then and then of course they moved to a shed which TechniQuest is now, it was the old TechniQuest shed, and then they moved into the Cory building, and when they were in the Cory building, I actually came up to retirement, and so when I retired, because I’d known them all this time, that’s where I want to go, and I went in and they ‘oh yes we want volunteers,’ and so I went in there, and I worked as a volunteer from thence onwards.

AN: Do you have any special memories of volunteering here that you would like to share?

[Special memories of volunteering - 8:20 to 12:15]

JD: Special memories, gosh, I mean I can remember being over in the Cory Building which was a nightmare building, we had one big room which we had a canteen and volunteers there served tea and cake and things, so not only were you looking after the room, and somebody wanted to buy something you had to take it through to where the manager was on the sales desk by the entrance so you could never see, you couldn’t see the manager, you had to leave your room to go in there, and it was quite a difficult situation being there and of course there were people lining up wanting cups of tea as well, but we had some lovely gentleman who used to come in almost every day for a cup of tea and a cake at half past ten in the morning, and they always came in to have their tea and cake, and I think they must of worked in one of the banks or businesses around and they’d always come in and they’d have a chat and they did buy things as well and that was good, the tea place was quite nice, and it was very social, of course in this building we don’t have the same relationship with the cafe as we did then, but that was nice, and I remember the girls worked that worked there with us, we had Tanwyn and Wendy, were the the two managers were at this time, and then of course when we first moved in here, there was Ron, who was in charge, and of course this building was Ron’s dream. It was wonderful and I remember him complaining bitterly about ladies who came in stiletto heels. He said – oh they’re walking, oh they’ll ruin that floor! Well the floor has survived very well indeed, so I remember him well, and I remember his wife too, Anna, who sadly died, and they’ve all been friends, it was interesting how new people come, I can remember one maker, very dishy, young man arrived one morning and he leaned on the desk and he said ‘I’m a new maker, what do I do?’ and I said ‘you are lovely’ you know, but they are really so nice, the makers, and some have such awful jokes with you, there was one who was busy painting one of the stands when I came one morning, and I think he thought I didn’t know what he made, and he said ‘ What do you think about this stuff sticking up here’ ‘I think it’s very nice’ I said because it was his. So I had to make a good opinion, and the others nice things about being here is a lot of quite students come in. We get students from the art courses in the university come in, and you could tell them as soon as they come in, because they studied all the little notices, so we usually said if you want information about the maker you can have it, and you can take photographs if they’re for your own personal use, so that’s a nice thing too. The thing that scares me most in here, well two things are, people with small children who let them run up and down and people whose come in with an enormous rucksacks, because you think there’re going swing round, someone with a rucksack, I said ‘would you like to leave your bag here by the desk while you’re looking ‘round’, but it’s a very nice place to work, I’m very happy here.

[Break in the recording]

AN: Right. So, going back to our discussion about volunteering. How would you define volunteering?

[Definitions of volunteering - 12:29 to 13:17]

JD: How would I define volunteering? Oh gosh. Well I suppose the principal thing about volunteering is that you do it of your own free will and your own free time and then you don’t expect payment for it, but to me it’s something I found very much as a sort of outlet for my personality, I like to meet people and talk to them, I’m a terrible chatter box, I talk people heads off. So, yeah, I think it’s being able to communicate with people, and interact with people, and did that help you?

AN: It does yes it does. Do you think volunteering helped you know your community better?

[Volunteering and community - 13:25 to 15:56]

JD: Helped me know my community better? Yes and no. I don’t often see people in here that I know. It’s strange and a lot of the people that I know outside, my friends, don’t come here. If I say to them, ‘oh, I’m down there, oh I must go down there sometime,’ but they don’t come in, but I do get to know people who aren’t in my local community, I know the others managers and the other makers definitely. We don’t get together very much as volunteers , I was saying this to Simon when I came up here that it would be really, rather nice if we had a volunteer sort of get-together coffee morning, because we hear about the others volunteers and I’ve heard about Mary and I hardly met her before. The only time that I contact other volunteers is when we were doing doubling up at Christmas, when it’s busy time we have two volunteers in, or if somebody can early do on the morning or on the afternoon and I do the other half of the day, and we have a little bit of a crossover. So I don’t meet the volunteers much but I do make a lot of contacts, funnily enough, being a spinner and I come in here and I spin. Several times I’ve actually been able to go – I’ve been asked to go talk to groups about spinning. Which is something, you know. It comes a little bit of a laugh to me because I do volunteer to do that, to go to WI’s and women’s clubs and, once I can’t remember how it happened, I went to a gardening club, and they were mostly men, it was really, I had to adapt my talk and change tracks completely, and talk about dying and dye plants which they found very interesting, but it is, but you do meet people, and I found how talk to people and children, the mother who come in and she goes ‘look at that lady weaving’ and I said ‘actually I’m spinning’ so it’s quite a nice social thing that you can do, yes.

AN: So do you feel you’re a part of community?

JD: Yes, I feel as a community, I feel the bay as my community, when I’m here yes. In fact in many ways, I find this more of a community than the village where I live, because if I walk down in the street, I don’t have to meet anybody that I know, if I’m going in the local shops. So here, I will quite often see somebody who I have seen here.

Interviewer: Great. Do you think volunteering has influenced other part of your life, family life, social life?

[Volunteering and other aspects of life - 16:35 to 17:22]

JD: Influences on my social life? A little bit. I mean we do have - this is mainly because The Friends actually. To me there is a big link between the volunteers and The Friends, I don’t know if all volunteers are members of The Friends, but we do have quite an active Friends group, and they have events on, and we haven’t been anywhere for the last few years, we did go to a couple of nice exhibitions outside Cardiff, and organized trips, and but certainly I do meet with them, and then it sort of happened a bit there, yes a little bit.

AN: Did your volunteering make others members of your family or friends of yours volunteer as well? Did you inspire them in any way?

JD: No, I didn’t inspire my friends because most of my friends are quite elderly. People say I look a lot younger than I am. But you could work out how old I am if you want to. But most of them are much less capable than I am. I can’t think of any of my friends who could manage a day here. My family are not here, and my daughter and her family live in London and my son and his family live in America and my sister lives down in Devon. So, I don’t have anybody locally that is related to me.

AN: Do you volunteer in any of the workshops here?

[Volunteer workshops at Craft in the Bay - 18:17 to 18:43]

JD: In the workshops? No, they don’t have volunteers in the workshops. You can actually attend the workshops. And I have attended the workshops as a participant. I did once help with the children’s workshop with Charlotte yes. But usually they don’t involve volunteers - the workshops.

AN: But volunteers can attend them?

JD: Oh yes, volunteers can attend them and I mean if you are a friend you get a reduction on the price. Which is nice, and it’s a little bit of a perk. Yes, I have attended some of those. Yes.

AN: Do you have any advice or words of inspiration for people who would like to volunteer?

JD: Inspiration and advice for people, yes. Come and enjoy yourself, I mean I just find it a pleasure to be here, to see the work that there is in the gallery, to meet all the people who come in. Some of them are willing to talk to you, some of them are not. We get an enormous variety people from all over the world. I quite enjoy sort of picking out the people who ‘You come from America, don’t you? What part do you come from?’ ‘Why?’ ‘Well my son is in New Hampshire’ you could make a rapport with them and I use my Welsh a little bit, Simon speaks Welsh, if you can persuade him to, and Margaret who is one of the managers, she speaks Welsh, and she corrects me when I get it wrong, and sometimes we get groups of ladies who come down from the valleys, and they’ll come in and I’ll experiment on them too. So it can be, it’s nice you know to be able to do that, and to show that you’re a part of the community, one of the reasons why I learned Welsh, I want to be able to, I mean I have a Welsh name so why shouldn’t I speak Welsh?

AN: Do you think your volunteering impacted the wider community or contributed to society in any way?

[Wider impact of volunteering - 20:35 to 21:57]

JD: Contributed to the community or the society? I suppose it has, it’s difficult to gauge how. I feel sometimes that all this down here on the Bay, really doesn’t relate to the community that’s down here at all, because the real Community of Cardiff Bay are over there, in use to be Tiger Bay, and the original community, when I first came to Cardiff this was all docks, I got lost down here one night and thought ‘help! Where have I ended up?’ I mean, there were no new buildings, there was nothing, so over the years the that I’ve been in Cardiff and around, I have seen this place change from somewhere which is, was a very community place where people worked, where people lived, to somewhere which is quite alien to them, and which is flats that go up for people who have holidays, people who come down ‘Oh we must go down to the Bay because that a holiday place’ and it’s a shame in many ways but I suppose that’s progress, I mean it happens everywhere, doesn’t it? That places change all the time.

AN: Would you like to hide anything else about volunteering that you haven’t said yet?

[Summing up - 22:04 to 22:57]

JD: What else shall I say about volunteering? I think volunteering is a very nice thing if you could do it, it’s helps you, I mean I’m on my own, and it’s a nice way to get yourself out, to meet other people, and to feel you are making input, I mean the makers guild here wouldn’t survive if it did have volunteers, because they have volunteers they don’t have to employ as many people. And if they don’t have to employ so many people, they don’t have to take as much money off the makers, so it’s all works in, it makes it something that is valuable for everybody, so yes I’ve been benefited and I hope everybody else has.

AN: Well, thank you very much.

JD: Thank you, It's been nice meeting you all, and I hope your work goes well.

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