SALT OF THE EARTH: Volunteer Les Shannon is keeping Scarborough's history alive at the Maritime Heritage Centre

In the fifth week of our Salt of the Earth Campaign, we meet Les Shannon, a volunteer at Scarborough’s Maritime Heritage Centre.

By Louise Perrin
Thursday, 13th February 2020, 11:06 am
Updated Thursday, 13th February 2020, 11:20 am

Salt of the Earth is a partnership between North Yorkshire County Council and The Scarborough News to celebrate acts of kindness across our communities.

In our fifth Salt of the Earth feature, we meet Les Shannon, a volunteer at Scarborough’s Maritime Heritage Centre.

Les at work at the Maritime Heritage Centre.

Les, 70, started working at the Heritage Centre after he retired from the Scarborough Fire Service where he quite literally wrote the book on the local service – “Conflagrations – Scarboro’s Firefighting History”.

“I’ve always been interested in Scarborough history, collecting photos and books, although not so much of it was maritime, so I came here to learn about the maritime side of things,” he said.

The Heritage Centre offers a wealth of information on maritime history, including a lot of information on the Titanic.

Les said: “It’s a little known fact that Edward Harland who founded Harland and Wolff – the company that built the Titanic – was a Scarborough lad.”

The Scarborough Maritime Heritage Centre.

It’s gems of information like this that Les drops into conversation throughout the interview.

“I enjoy talking to people and learning about Scarborough’s history, it’s amazing how many people come from away who tell us about our own history,” he said.

Lindy Rowley, volunteer co-ordinator, who herself has an MBE for volunteering, said of Les: “Les is one of our invaluable volunteers who has really taken on the mantle of doing the exhibition wall that changes every three months, doing all the research and everything else.

Les with Lindy Rowley.

“He is a nice friendly man who is easily approachable and will do anything we ask of him. He will always step in at short notice, which is one of the reasons he’s such a great volunteer.”

Mark Vesey, chairman of Scarborough Maritime Heritage Centre, said: “Les has been a great support to the maritime centre, helping us prepare exhibitions, dealing with local history enquiries and welcoming visitors. He also made a children's history trail map and recently ran a pub quiz for all our volunteers so they could enjoy a night out.”

Les said: “The centre is open from Wednesday to Sunday and I volunteer two days a week – Thursday and Friday. I like being front of shop because I enjoy meeting people. The camaraderie is good and everyone is so welcoming, people come from all walks of life. Our youngest volunteer is about 20 and our oldest in his 80s.”

The heritage centre has officially been running as an organisation and registered charity for the last 10 years, although planning started some five years before that.

Les doing some research at the Maritime Heritage Centre.

It has been in its current location on Eastborough for the last five years, since moving from the former premises across the road.

The centre is always happy to welcome new volunteers to help with all aspects, from digitising photographs to historical research, but are particularly keen to hear from anyone who could help put together future funding bids.

To find out more visit of the Earth

With so much change going on in our world, there is something very powerful and pure about the simplicity of kindness and its ability to transform people’s lives in our communities.

Kindness is a quality that has stood the test of time, and one which in challenging times holds the key to a bright and promising future for us all. Sometimes we can doubt our individual power to make a difference, when it is something we all possess and can channel to help others – giving a strong sense of wellbeing for the recipient, but also for ourselves as we realise that we have done something positive.

Being kind already comes naturally to the Scarborough district and residents right across North Yorkshire, which is why The Scarborough News, in partnership with North Yorkshire County Council and sister JPI Media titles in Yorkshire, has launched a major year-long campaign called Salt of the Earth to celebrate this, which will share inspiring stories and examples of the very easy but meaningful ways that we can all make somebody’s day brighter just by showing some thought.

Is there someone exceptional in your life that you’d be lost without? Maybe it’s the neighbour who takes your elderly parent shopping, or the teenager who mows your lawn for free.

Perhaps it’s a friend who sits with your disabled child so you can get your hair cut, or it could be the person who always brings your pills home from the surgery without being asked.

Whoever it is, and whatever they do, we’d love to hear about them – email [email protected]