A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A VOLUNTEER                                                                                  AT CAPTAIN COOK’S SCHOOLROOM MUSEUM

Captain Cook Schoolroom Museum

Captain Cook Schoolroom Museum

Captain Cook’s Schoolroom Museum     101 High Street                                               Great Ayton                                                     North Yorkshire                                             TS9 6NB                                                                                                                                     Open*: 27 March 2014 – 31 October 2014

Opening Hours:                                             April, May, June – 1.00pm -4.00pm daily July & August – 11.00am  – 4.00pm daily

Admission – FREE

Captain Cook’s Schoolroom Museum promotes knowledge about the social history of Great Ayton, a village in North Yorkshire, and the life and work of Captain James Cook, FRS, RN, British explorer, navigator, cartographer, and captain in the Royal Navy.

The museum exhibition takes the visitor through a voyage of James Cook’s life (1728 – 1779) from schoolboy to celebrated explorer.

Schoolroom image

Schoolroom image

Captain James Cook

Captain James Cook

Containing something for everyone, the walk through Cook’s life can take a few minutes or a few hours.


I arrived at the museum to witness a slight kerfuffle over the ‘float’; entrance to the museum is free but it is entirely self-funded and relies upon fundraising activities, donations and the sale of souvenirs.  Plenty of loose change is required at the start of the day.

The museum was officially re-opened on 17 July 2013 after an extensive refurbishment, made possible by lottery funding.  The museum is based on two floors.  A lift has been installed to ensure access for all.  The entrance, enquiries and shop are on the ground floor.  The shop is stocked with a vast array of fun and educational toys for the children, at ‘pocket money’ prices, with books about Captain James Cook and other ephemera for adults.

Letting the day unfold, I was able to assist visitors but as always, learned far more from talking and listening to the visitors themselves.  A local couple described their delight at being allowed to board a replica of Captain Cook’s ship, the Endeavour, before it had been opened to the public when it was docked at Lyttleton Harbour, New Zealand, a few years ago.  They were allowed a private viewing on the grounds that they were from Great Ayton, visiting New Zealand. Another visitor, hot on the heels of a visit to the Captain Cook Birth Place Museum, was happy to share her experiences, stating that she had ‘learned more in the last four days’ than she did at school.  She recounted her visit to James Cook senior’s grave at Saint Germain’s Church, Markse.  All that remains of the Church is the tower preserved, it is rumoured, on the plea of sailors who claimed it could be seen from the sea and thus provided a good landmark.

This discussion was followed by a request for directions to Cook’s Monument in the Cleveland Hills.  The monument is visible from the High Street in Great Ayton.  A local map of the walk can be purchased from the Tourist Information Centre.

A discussion about the Royal Research Ship James Cook followed.  This is a modern day oceanographic research vessel named in Cook’s honour, carrying on the tradition of scientific discovery.  It is one of the most advanced research vessels in service.

A Gentleman hailing from Gisborne, New Zealand, was next in through the Museum entrance.  He stated that he was from ‘approximately 2,000 yards from Captain Cook’s first landing point in New Zealand’.   He was amazed by the relatively ‘low key’ approach to Captain Cook.  He commented that in Gisborne, organisations from motor companies to restaurants all rejoice in the Cook name and celebrate the Captain Cook connection.

Audio TrailOne couple undertook the audio trail.  For a £10 refundable deposit visitors are provided with an audio headset and a map of the village.   The trail leads the visitor around the village explaining the Cook connection and setting it within its historical context.  Taking approximately 60 – 90 minutes, the trail is a walk from Captain Cook’s Schoolroom Museum taking in 14 points of interest around the village.  It examines the village’s Quaker roots, highlights Cook’s monument, statue, the 12th Century Church containing the grave of Cook’s mother and siblings and takes the visitor to the original site of Cook’s parents’ cottage.  In 1933 the cottage was sold, dismantled, shipped and rebuilt in Australia where it now stands in Fitzroy Gardens in Melbourne.

So there you have it!  One day in the life of a volunteeer at the refurbished Captain Cook Schoolroom Museum. Whether you are an historian interested in the life and times of Captain James Cook, simply following the Captain Cook Trail,  interested in local history, a local wishing to re-acquaint yourself with the village, a parent looking to occupy a child or, simply a passerby … Captain James Cook Schoolroom Museum has something for everyone! On behalf of all the volunteers working at the museum, we look forward to seeing you…

*The 2014 season begins with an organised school trip and opens to the public on Saturday 28th March from 1pm – 4pm

For more on the museum see


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Musings on the North East Expo …

I was lucky enough to attend the North East Expo last week, which was a hive of activity. Over 250 Small to Medium Sized Enterprises, based predominantly within a 50 mile radius of Newcastle upon Tyne, came together to share business ideas through networking and participating in seminars and workshops.

As a freelance researcher, who previously worked for the former government advisory service for small to medium sized enterprises, it was an opportunity to experience things from a different angle; to listen to experts from outside of my profession, as an attendee rather than a member of the organising body.

Sadly, time ensured that I attended only 5 of the 14 sessions so I thought I would share with you the pointers that I took away from each (not a full rendition of each session) in the hope that other attendees would add their thoughts and opinions on the sessions I missed …

First up for me was Giles Johnston of Smartspeed Consulting Ltd ( with a session on “5 Ideas to improve productivity, profit and performance”.

Giles’ talk reminded me of many of the aspects of time management skills that I have learned to employ over the years but I took from it the idea of ‘5Ss’

• Sort – remove junk and declutter
• Set in order – put things in the right place
• Shine – keep your office in ‘showroom conditions’ (no more last-minute tidying up before your visitor arrives!)
• Standards – clarify with your colleagues how and where things are kept
• Sustain – Once you have carried out the first four ‘S’s, keep reapplying them!

These points do not just apply to your physical office but to your IT aspects too …

Then it was on to listen to Mike Lever of New Results Training ( his talk on ‘The Journey of Change’.

Using a very personal account of his own experience which involved IVF, a sudden life threatening condition, the collapse of the company he was working for and subsequent redundancy, Mike inspired his audience to consider the changes they need to make:

• What do you need to change?
• Why do you need to make the change?
• How will you effect the change?

We were all issued with the challenge:

What can you achieve between now and the New Year?

This was a well-timed seminar for me to attend as it both resonated with me and the stage I am at both personally and professionally and segued nicely into the next session I attended…

Simon Bucknall ( “The Greatest Story You’ve Never Told”.

Simon demonstrated the power of using your own personal stories to communicate your message when engaged in public speaking. Using the ‘4Cs’ –

• Context
• Conflict
• Critical Moment
• Consequence

Simon wove a true story of standing-up to, and later befriending, the school bully. He illustrated how a simple story, well told, can emphasise your point. I will be taking the lessons I learned in this session and adding them to the pointers I have picked up whilst studying and giving presentations. Simon himself stated that he has attended Toastmaster General meetings – something I have attended recently and intend to join …

The art of using your own personal experience was illustrated again by Julie Johnson ( in her workshop on “Your Business as Your Stage – How to become the star and dance your way to success”. Julie used the metaphor of ‘DANCE’ to encourage us to clarify where we are with our businesses and where we want to be:

Discover, Define, Direct
Discover where your business is and where you want it to be
Define what success for you and your business looks like
Direct your business – take responsibility for your business and what you want it to be.

Understand what drives you and what drives your business

No Limitations
Realise that we set our own limitations which stop us from doing things.

Be aware of the connection between what you say and do; be consistent.

How energetic you are feeling will come across in your business!

Finally, I attended Sam Flynn’s ( session “Creating a Super Successful Social Media Strategy”. This was a gem of a session which I almost did not attend as I have recently read many articles/books and attended Webinars on the subject …

Rather than conduct a whistle-stop tour on how to use several social media platforms, Sam defined a 3-point strategy for the effective business use of social media:

• Aims – what are you using social media for? Who is your target market?
• Content – stand out. Think through what you are saying. Share knowledge and information. Show that you know your
industry and build trust.
• Engage – share other people’s content, ask questions and reply to other people’s posts.

For me the salient message was that businesses use social media to get more business; not to see what they can buy. Sales messages on social media are unlikely to work. Use social media to build trust.

Other useful sound bites I took away from this session were:

• Use Google Reader to search for relevant blogs
• For Twitter, use and to search for relevant people and organisations to follow and to see
useful statistics on who is following you (when they last posted, how active they are etc.) … I know that there are
many others!

In between the sessions, I was able to network and to visit the exhibition halls where I spoke to Damian Hall of Signpost ( regarding an online virtual coaching tool and who has very kindly sent me one of the 37 elements ‘The art of procrastination’ – which I promised myself I would read AFTER posting this blog!

It would be impossible to name everyone else that I spoke to but, I would like to thank Caron Grant of Icenturf Ltd ( for taking pity on me! This is the first time I have had a ride in a snow plough – and that was after I said that I hoped we had no need of a snow plough during the winter months!

All in all, I had a productive day out and I hope that other attendees reading this blog add to the discussion by giving their highlights of the day …

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