Karen Davies, Edmund Gardner volunteer, seated in yellow top
To celebrate Volunteers Week (1 - 12 June) Karen Davies, one of our dedicated volunteers, wrote a blog about what she does and what it means to her:
"So, here we are at the start of another tour season of the unique Edmund Gardner (EG) pilot cutter – an award winning ship of historic national importance, in this 250th anniversary year since the pilot service began in Liverpool.
I’m very much looking forward to working with my fellow guides and museum visitor hosts, and welcoming new visitors on board, to share what is now an award-winning, volunteer-led guided tour.
I’ve worked as a tour guide for a number of years on various projects, both in Liverpool and my hometown of Peterborough. When I relocated to Wirral, it was this love of guiding that brought me to apply to be an EG guide, which must be six years ago now when the tours, in their present format, began.
My knowledge of ships and sailing was minimal, some may say it still is, but my love for social history is well-served aboard the EG. This ship was ‘home’ for up to 54 men and boys and in close proximity they worked, learned, honed their skills, lived and played. And over the span of 30 years when the EG was in service (1953-1982) society underwent many changes and these were reflected on board and in turn governed the lives and behaviour of the masters, crew, pilots and apprentice pilots.
For myself, this is a major part of what makes this ship special – this small community of men, for the most part tossed and battered by the high tides and winds, as they fulfil their vital role in safely guiding ships along the Mersey in to and out of the port of Liverpool. Social history in action and relatively recent – even the accommodation on board bears testament.
As with all guided tours we’d be lost without our visitors who come to learn about the Edmund Gardner herself, the role of the pilot service, and to share our stories about life on board. Have you heard the one about the cook who went missing? – no? Or why the chief engineer was running around in his underpants? – no? How about the shenanigans of the apprentice pilots when off shift? – no idea? – shame!
Guess we might be welcoming you on board one Tuesday or Wednesday before the end of September then.
I do hope so."