Volunteering with the Roker Heritage Group is an invaluable way of engaging with local heritage, learning more about the history of Roker & Seaburn and preserving the legacy of Sunderland's rich maritime heritage. In this first of our occasional series of volunteer profiles, we find out more about the members of our current volunteer team. Today, we say hello to the Chair of Roker Heritage Group, Phil Tweddle.
Who are you and where are you from?
I’m Philip Tweddell, born and bred in Sunderland and I have lived, worked and socialised within the Sunderland area all my life. I and have many interests that keep me fully occupied including being a member of Sunderland Rotary Club, Honorary President of Sunderland Strollers Running Club after being Chairman for 20 years, I am stepping down because of ill health. I am currently Chair of Roker Heritage Group (RHG).
How long have you been volunteering with RHG?
I have been volunteering since its inception and was at the very first meeting chaired by Brian Dodds (a Rotary Member and Chairman of the RVLB).
How did you find out about volunteering with RHG and what attracted you to the role?
It was by chance that I heard about the meeting that was to take place looking for volunteers following the restoration work on Roker Pier & Lighthouse. At one Rotary meeting, I overheard Brian Dodds talking to a fellow Rotarian about Roker Lighthouse, so I piped up that I knew about the lighthouse as my grandfather had been the lighthouse keeper for many years.
Brian promptly invited me to the meeting and asked if I would volunteer to be Chair as he had too many other commitments and would step down at the first meeting.
I was elected Chair with my previous history and background with the lighthouse. Another volunteer, Mathew Gleghorn was elected Secretary at the same meeting.
Following our election to these positions Mathew Gleghorn and I worked alongside Ian Smith-White from Sunderland Council whilst restoration on the lighthouse took place.
What have you been doing so far?
I meet with the other Trustees on a monthly basis.Along with all the other RHG volunteers I have been involved in the Heritage Open Days lighthouse tours and a visit from the Association of Lighthouse Keeper, and of course our monthly volunteer meetings.
What more are you looking forward to helping with?
I am looking forward to the official opening of Roker Pier & Lighthouse, and to start participating in the organised tours on a regular basis informing the public on this magnificent grade II structure, its history and how it was built.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to volunteer with us?
Anyone who is thinking they would like to volunteer with our group, I would say come along and give it a go. We are a friendly organisation who enjoy a laugh and have some fun, but if you find it's not for you there's nothing lost - at least you tried. When the organised tours are up and running it will be an interesting way to meet the public.
If you’d like to find out more about volunteering with us, please visit our Volunteering web page