Hello again! Sadly, we have come to the end of my time here at Banting House NHS working as a Canada Summer Jobs student. It is hard to believe how fast time has gone but I feel so fortunate to have had this opportunity! I have learned so much during my time here and would love to share some of my concluding thoughts with you all.
As you may know if you read my introductory post months back, before working here this summer I did have the opportunity to volunteer here for a couple of years. Having heard the curator, Grant, talking on the radio about the William Robertson Banting Fonds that were donated to the museum and being a history enthusiast, I reached out and began volunteering. As a volunteer, I had the opportunity to spend some time with the fonds, organizing them and transcribing them to make it easier to input them into the system later. Working here this summer, I was able to continue with this project, organizing the documents into new sections to make it easier for the intern to then catalogue the items and give them accession numbers. It was fascinating to be part of such a big project and was so rewarding to see everything organized into boxes and placed in storage.
I also had the opportunity to help prepare for and participate in major events that the museum takes part in. For example, I was able to help with Ride For Cause…Let’s End Diabetes which took place this summer and was a fantastic success! Helping with social media positing, I have further been able to help boost engagement with other events like Doors Open London which took place last weekend and World Diabetes Day which is coming up on November 14th. It has truly amazed me how big these events tend to be and how far they go in spreading awareness of diabetes, insulin, and the life and career of Sir Frederick Banting.
Working here this summer has also given me the chance to learn new skills and handle fascinating historical pieces! With the help of the summer intern, I was able to catalogue and accession my first item into Past Perfect, the database used by the museum. The item was a needle sharpener and was such a fascinating piece. After conducting some research on it, I was even able to find a copy of the original patent online. I also helped the intern to organize some of the other items in the collection and worked with many newspapers and medical texts, securing them in boxes to ensure that they will be easier to find and are kept safe until needed!
Finally, I had the opportunity to offer countless tours to visitors from all over the world. Having volunteered here previously, I was aware of the incredible impact and reach that Banting House has but I was still blown away by all of the incredible stories I got to be a part of this summer. Guiding visitors from England, Brazil, Germany, and beyond, I learned so much from each group I chatted with and was continuously moved by how meaningful this place is for so many. While I used to be nervous about offering tours, it has become almost second nature to me and I always looked forward to showing individuals and groups through the museum. The discovery of insulin and the incredible legacy that Sir Frederick Banting has left behind is of indescribable significance and I am so glad to hear that numbers of visitors have increased this summer to pre-covid numbers. Having lived in London my whole life, I still cannot believe it took me so long to come here but now that I have been lucky enough to spend so much time here, it is a place that I will recommend to everyone I know and a place I know that I will be visiting time and time again.
As I begin my next journey in life, I will look back on this chapter incredibly fondly and with a great deal of emotion. I hope to continue to volunteer here as much as I can but for now I am signing off this blog. Thank you to everyone who read along as I unearthed what it means to volunteer and work at the incredible birthplace of insulin!