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During National Volunteers' Week 2021, Art UK is celebrating the contributions made by our sculpture project volunteers. During the first week of June, we will showcase a different volunteer story each day that details why and how they decided to participate.

Please introduce yourself

My name is Helen Chester. I retired early from a career in education because of mental health problems and took up photography for therapeutic reasons. I also volunteer as a tour guide at a local heritage site.

Helen Chester

Helen Chester

Describe your role in the Art UK sculpture project

My role within the Sculpture Project is as a photographer.

Why did you apply to volunteer?

I applied to take part because I thought the project sounded like a great idea. Photography has been a hobby of mine for many years now and I thought this would be a good way to make use of my skills.

What did you enjoy most within your role?

The most enjoyable aspect of the work has been finding new places to visit – there are sculptures and war memorials in the most unlikely locations. I've also had the privilege of seeing some truly stunning sculptures.

Was there anything you found particularly challenging?

I found the spreadsheet really daunting at first.

Shrovetide Hug

Shrovetide Hug 2008

Neil Hawksworth (b.1947)

Mayfield Road, Ashbourne, Derbyshire

Did you develop any new skills?

The most obvious skills were in mastering the spreadsheet and finding my way around Lightroom better than before. It has also helped me to some extent with my social anxiety issues as I sometimes have to engage with people in order to get the job done. In the past, I would have run a mile rather than ask someone to please step aside while I took a photo.

War Memorial

War Memorial

unknown artist

Higg Lane, Alderwasley, Derbyshire

Can you share a favourite memory of your time volunteering?

It took me a while to find the war memorial at Alderwasley (it's stuck in a field in the middle of nowhere) and I got completely lost on the way home. I discovered that Derbyshire is full of single-track roads which don't appear on the map. My husband now usually comes with me to ensure I get home again!

Helen Chester, Art UK volunteer

Art UK thanks each and every volunteer that contributed their time to capturing an incredible record of public sculpture in the UK.

More photographs by sculpture project volunteers can be viewed in a Curation: Art UK Volunteer Photographers' Gallery