Volunteer honoured for his commitment to brick museum says: 'It gave me a reason to get up in the morning'

A RETIRED investigator has won an award for his volunteer work – and credits it for helping him overcome depression when his wife died.

By Nicole Gibbs
Tuesday, 23rd March 2021, 12:54 pm
Updated Tuesday, 23rd March 2021, 3:30 pm

Richard Newman, from Fareham, received an Unsung Hero Award at the Beautiful South Tourism Awards earlier this month.

Richard has contributed to The Brickworks Museum in Swanwick – thought to be the last Victorian steam-driven brickworks left in the UK – in many different ways since he began volunteering four years ago.

Drawn to volunteering following the loss of his wife Meg in 2014 to cancer, Richard insists the museum has done more for him than he could ever do for them.

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Richard Newman near one of the brick making machines at Bursledon Brickworks Picture: Habibur Rahman

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The 71-year-old said: ‘When my wife died, I was very depressed and for a couple of years I didn’t even admit I had a problem.

‘Then I saw an advert in The News and it said “why don’t you come and volunteer at The Brickworks?” And the rest, as they say, is history.’

Richard has had his fair share of health scares since his wife’s passing but attributes the improvements in his wellbeing to The Brickworks, his family, and friends.

Richard Newman Picture: Habibur Rahman

He said: ‘I have a renewed sense of purpose and, as I said to a friend the other day: It gives me a reason to get up in the morning, shine my shoes, get out there, and interact with people.’

Now as site manager, he monitors several aspects of the museum including health and safety, security, and general upkeep of the museum and its brick making machinery.

He even saved the museum thousands of pounds when he discovered they were being overcharged for utilities and he persevered until they received a refund.

Richard also helps out front of house, giving guided tours to visitors and talks in other locations on behalf of Brickworks; most notably he gave a speech at the Mayor of Fareham’s recent charity ball.

With a background in security and event organisation, he thought he could be of use to the museum but it’s clear to his colleagues that he was underselling himself.

Mary Flinn, collections manager at The Brickworks Museum, said: ‘At the time he suggested he might be useful in one way or another – this was such an understatement.

‘Richard is now an important and well-established member of the team and it is impossible to imagine The Brickworks without him.’

Richard learnt he’d won the Unsung Hero Award during a virtual awards ceremony, where he dressed up for the occasion in a dinner jacket and bow tie, but he remains modest about his win.

‘I didn’t think that I would be in the running for one of the top prizes,’ he said.

‘But I keep saying this award is not for me, it’s for everybody.’

Richard celebrated by baking a cake and taking it to his colleagues at The Brickworks Museum.

The museum plans to re-open in May.

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