Please describe your role
I am the manager of the Rochdale Pioneers Museum, which is a very wide and varied role. Every day at the museum is different. For example, one day we will have two school parties; the next day a coach of Japanese co-operators; and the following day we will be installing a new exhibition. I am responsible for all aspects of the day-to-day running of the museum, from health and safety and maintenance to marketing and outreach. I deliver workshops to schools and tour parties (although I try to leave this side of things to my two wonderful museum officers as much as possible in order to work on more strategic elements). I am responsible for fundraising, managing volunteers, caring for the museum’s collection of historic artefacts, curating temporary exhibitions, planning family events and lectures, and managing the website and social media.
How do you get started in the morning?
I start the day with a cup of tea, then brief my two museum officers and volunteers about what the day has in store.
What did you used to think of co-operatives, before you started working at the museum?
I didn’t know very much about co-operatives and hadn’t really come across any besides Co-operative food stores. From what I knew about the food stores I thought they were ethical and fair, but didn’t know much beyond this.
What do you think of co-operatives now?
I am astounded by the range of co-operatives across the country and throughout the world. We have so many visitors who tell us what co-operatives do for them and their communities – it is amazing what a difference they make to people’s lives. Working at the museum and learning about the Rochdale Pioneers’ story has changed the way I think about the world and has made me more conscious of my own responsibilities. It has changed my shopping habits, too, as I am much more aware of the power I have when I choose how and where to spend my money.
What motivates you throughout the day?
I am motivated by bringing history and the story of the Rochdale Pioneers to life. I love to hear visitors chatting to each other about their memories of the co-operative movement and to see families enjoying themselves while at the same time learning and being inspired.
What does the co-operative difference mean to you and your team?
The co-operative difference means a lot to me and my team as we work every day in the birthplace of the global movement. We feel a strong responsibility to safeguard and share the story of the Rochdale Pioneers to inspire future generations of co-operators.
What inspires you?
My deep passion for history motivates me in my profession. After completing a history degree, I wanted to follow a career that was directly related to my studies. I am passionate about telling inspirational stories from the past and believe strongly in the power of museums and culture to change lives through inspiration, enjoyment and learning.
If you could form a never-tried-before co-operative tomorrow what would it be?
It would have to be something that combines my love of museums and swimming! I have always wanted to transform the historic Ashton-under-Lyne swimming pool into a swimming pool museum, so maybe it could be run with a co-operative membership structure!
How do you wind down?
In the summer I like to do open water swimming in Salford Quays and in the winter I do kettle exercise classes. I also love to go walking in the countryside and to visit other museums and art galleries.