Richard Perks – Tour Guide


What I do
As well as helping the RAF Museum Engineering Team, I also volunteer as a tour guide, taking groups around the Museum for 1, 2 or even 5 hours! The groups vary enormously: they range from families celebrating a birthday, through clubs and organisations having a day out, to RAF personnel learning about its history. Taking a group around the Museum is an opportunity to educate them about the Royal Air Force, about British aviation in general and about the people who brought it all to life.

All the tour guides are self-taught and most begin by shadowing a few tours, as well as doing some of their own research. And when they feel they are ready, they lead one themselves. For me that was really just the start because the more tours/ reading you do, the more information you pick up and hopefully, the more your visitors enjoy the experience. But the first tour was pretty nerve racking!

What I love
I have to say that coming into Cosford is one of the highlights of my week. Tour guiding gives me a different kind of buzz from the engineering volunteering. When meeting the visitors for the first time they’re strangers, but over the next few hours my aim is to build a rapport, to tell them a story and to leave them having enjoyed the experience. Hopefully, they’ve also learnt about a part of history that they didn’t previously know. You can always tell when a tour has gone well by the thanks you get and the smiles on their faces. It’s a great feeling!

What I get
The chance to return to my career-roots. My working life began in aerospace manufacturing, followed by working for an airline, but after a few job changes I drifted out of the industry. Following early retirement, this seemed an ideal time to return to something I had long been fascinated by. My father was a member of the Royal Observer Corps and would recount stories from his youth of the Battle of Britain, the Second World War and the Cold War. During the 80s I became involved in a team restoring a Spitfire to flying condition and I organised a couple of small airshows, but as time went by, I became an “armchair” enthusiast. Joining the volunteer team at Cosford has enabled me to get back to being hands on.