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Meet the volunteers: James McGraw-Allen

Education volunteer, James McGraw-Allen


From guiding people around the ship, improving access to the library Collection to helping with our educational activities, meet the people making a difference and find out what it's like to volunteer at Brunel's ss Great Britain.

James McGraw-Allen, Education Volunteer 

'I volunteer as a member of the education team, assisting with the facilitation of workshops for school parties visiting the ship. The workshops are well structured, so I became familiar with the content quickly. However, each workshop has its own unique challenges and considerations, every day is totally different. Members of the crew have their own flavour in their delivery of the workshops and no two classes are alike. I never quite know what to expect, and oftern find myself being surprised by the questions and capabilities of the visiting pupils. My days volunteering are always very varied: I support the person giving the workshop by helping set up, move between and pack away the activities; I discuss the activities with the visiting pupils, asking them questions to improve their learning; and I have the most important job of making sure all of the visiting teachers and adults have refreshments. 

I was considering teaching as a career choice when I began volunteering. Working at Brunel’s ss Great Britain has given me great practical experience of working in a classroom environment and seeing how children learn and interact with each other. The team at Brunel’s ss Great Britain have also been integral to my application as they have not only provided me with a reference for my application, but more importantly they have supported me at all stages of the application process. I have been successful in my application to do a PGCE, and I can’t help but attribute some of that success to the support given to me by the staff at Brunel’s ss Great Britain.

I look forward to my days volunteering because I know I will be surrounded by friendly, supportive people and will be enriching young people’s lives. I remember learning about Brunel when I was in primary school and the feats of engineering are as amazing to me today as they were in my childhood. I think it is incredibly important that his work is preserved for others to see in generations to come.'


Our volunteers play an important part in all that we do. Having our volunteer team provides more opportunity for visitors to engage with a person, ask questions and to learn more.

If you are interested in volunteering at Brunel's ss Great Britain, please visit our volunteers page for more information and news. The opening of our new museum in 2018 will create new roles and opportunities. More information on how you can get involved will be updated soon.