Celebrating volunteer spirit

A grand commemoration weekend marking the birth of Wisbech’s most famous daughter is set to focus on the value of volunteering.

A string of events saluting the life of Wisbech-born Octavia Hill, the celebrated social reformer and co-founder of the National Trust, has been planned to recall her birth on December 3, 1838, in the home which has become the Birthplace House museum at 7 South Brink.

The keynote address on Saturday, November 30, which is being staged at the Birthplace House at PE13 1JB at 11am, is being given by Mr James Strang,  former president of the Chartered Institute of Housing and current chief executive of Parkhead Housing Association in Glasgow, when he gives the annual memorial lecture on ‘Housing in history today’.

Refreshments will be available from 9.15am in the Clock Tea Room on that morning and at 10am the annual general meeting of the Octavia Hill Society is taking place.

A pre-booked lunch has been arranged for 12.30pm on that day at Mendi’s at 21 Old Market, Wisbech, and anyone wishing to sign up for the meal at £15 a head – which includes a Christmas menu option – should ring the museum on 01945-476358, leaving contact details.

A Christmas Collectors’ Craft Fair will also run on that day at the museum from 10am to 4pm and there are still opportunities to rent a table for a £10 donation.

At 2pm in the afternoon a plaque is being unveiled in Heroes’ Arcade in the museum’s garden to Neville Folkard, who was instrumental in conserving today’s Birthplace House for posterity.

On Sunday, December 1, a commemoration of the life and work of Octavia Hill in words and music is being staged at St Peter’s Church in Wisbech, starting at 2pm.   The theme of the celebration of the eminent Victorian, whose watchword was ‘Do noble deeds not dream them’, is volunteerism – and the work of the volunteers who have run and who still run the Birthplace House is taking centre stage.

Once again the Clarkson Singers, under the skilful baton of musical director Loc-Mai Yuen-Brooker – who rehearse at the Birthplace House – will take a prominent role in the event, which will be introduced by licensed lay minister Keith Aplin.