Meet the Volunteers

SWFTA is enormously grateful for the support of our team of volunteers. These include specialist volunteers who are very knowledgeable about their fields of work and who have been an established part of the SWFTA team for many years. In May 2013, SWFTA secured funding to develop a new approach to volunteering, this project inspired others to get involved.   

Roger Charlesworth

Roger is a retired television picture (film and videotape) editor. Roger started work at Westward only a few months after the station went on air and then worked for 41 years for regional ITV in the South West. Consequently he has acclaimed in-depth knowledge of the television heritage held by SWFTA and is proud that, as he says, his life’s work is held in the Archive. Roger has been a volunteer at SWFTA for 10 years. He is a hugely respected member of the team and is seen as ‘the keeper of the flame’ by former Westward and TSW colleagues. His particular area of technical expertise is in working mainly with the film collections; repairing splices, sound and picture synchronisation, finding and viewing material and repairing edits. He can also assess moving image quality and content, and acts as an extra source of knowledge about the television collections, particularly from the early years. Roger enjoys being able to work with and handle film, as well as having an opportunity to continue utilising his professional expertise and knowledge. Roger volunteers at SWFTA because he wants to help ensure that the collections are safely preserved for future generations and are accessible to the community. 

Graham Russell

Graham is another former colleague who worked for ITV Westcountry until 2009. Shortly after, and with a bit of arm twisting by his former colleagues working at the archive, he started volunteering at SWFTA. When the digitising project was in progress, he joined the team as a paid employee and returned to volunteering afterwards. Graham is a very experienced technician and works mainly with the telecine and digitising equipment, and is also very good at computer problem-solving. Graham is a popular member of the team who always brings doughnuts! For Graham, being at the archive has meant being able to continue with the sort of work he's always enjoyed. He likes the work you have to put into making the ageing stock we have here look it's best when transferring it from Tele-Cine to computer hard drive for archival storage in digital format. This involves a lot of fiddling and tweaking of colour balance and levels and can take a long time. Graham says the archive fuels the tech nerd in him. Not only does he get to play with the older kit he used to work with but he's also getting to push forward with the new stuff as well, and he's getting more into editing, something he didn't do a lot of at ITV. 

Read what Graham says about volunteering at SWFTA on our Testimonials page. 

Edward Gigg

A volunteer, since around 2010, Edward has a long association with Music and the Musical Theatre scenes in the city. Having spent all his working life supplying the construction industry, Edward's interest in the moving image started in 1960, whilst living in his home city of Exeter, when he purchased his first clockwork 8mm Kodak Cine Camera. It is still in perfect working order and now is part of the SWFTA ‘museum’. The experience gained in the early days is put to good use as he is responsible for copying and logging the amateur small gauge film collections of home movies which are frequently donated to the Archive. Edward enjoys the challenges of doing this and the company of the other staff and volunteers. He finds it very satisfying to complete the work on each collection and has also picked up lots of tips along the way about how to improve his own films!

Jill Husband


Jill has worked as a journalist in newspapers and broadcasting for over 30 years, starting as a Programme Researcher with Westward TV in the seventies and later as a Programme Producer for TSW and finally as a Producer/Director for Westcountry TV. Having lived and worked in Plymouth since the sixties she has a wide knowledge of the region and its people. Jill joined the SWFTA team in early 2013, her present responsibilities include producing programmes from archive material for both client requests and for sale. Jill wanted to do some work for a charity and give back something to the industry. What she gets out of being a Volunteer at SWFTA is enjoyment of making programmes again and being part of a team using her previous skills and knowledge base to increase the productivity of film making within the archive.  Jill haspreviously worked with and mentored a fellow volunteer a PCAD film student which she really enjoyed and is always happy to talk to any students about her experience in the industry.

Laura Body


Laura is a special needs volunteer who is supported at SWFTA by an enabling assistant. Laura has been working with the archive for 10 years undertaking essential data entry; transferring information from index cards to the PC to enable improved access to and retrieval of archive content. Laura has a bubbly personality and loves being part of the team. Laura says the things she most enjoys about SWFTA is her database work and the people she works with.

Colin Damp

Colin joined Westward TV as Press and Publicity Officer in 1977, progressing to the job of researcher on educational programmes and then working as a sub-editor in the newsroom. For TSW, he was researcher/writer on the weekly arts and entertainments show "What's Ahead" which he later produced. He also worked on several editions of the children's show "Get Fresh" and researched and compiled over 2,000 questions on stage and screen musicals for the afternoon quiz "Sounds Like Music" - both of which were seen throughout the country on the ITV Network. On TSW's demise he became a publican in Plymouth, finally retiring in 2013. SWFTA was delighted to have Colin jump aboard in January 2014. 

Read what Colin says about volunteering at SWFTA on our Testimonials page. 

Robert Pymm

Rob started volunteering for SWFTA after hearing that people were needed to do a number of things he finds interesting; researching and interpreting local history on film. He got in touch with SWFTA through Plymouth Guild of Volunteers Centre at Ernest English House and has enjoyed working with the wider SWFTA team and extending his knowledge whilst gaining experience with computing databases and some of the software used in the archive. He finds this work enormously rewarding and is glad he became a Volunteer. We're glad you did too Rob!

Paul Tomlinson

Paul joined SWFTA on retirement from the MOD. Although his last job was involved in welfare and casualty management, he has also spent a lot of his time in the RAF, in both administrative and intelligence analysis roles. This, coupled with his keen interest in history and research meant that volunteering with SWFTA gave him the ideal opportunity to combine these interests. Paul has been with SWFTA for 6 months now and thoroughly enjoys the work, the new skills he has learnt and the companionship.

Brian Mathieson

Brian qualified as a maths teacher in Scotland, then worked at the same secondary school for 37 years, moving up in post to become deputy head. One of his first ventures when he started teaching was to set up a school film society, with weekly screenings of movies on 16mm, using two Bell & Howell projectors. Brian soon moved from standard ratio to widescreen and was soon running regular double bills to a packed 200-seater house. The trick for him was to slip the occasional arthouse film in alongside more popular fare. This ploy resulted in the school being named Film Society of the Year by the British Federation of Film Societies.

Another interest that Brian developed was in film making. Using 8mm stock, a group of youngsters under his charge scripted, shot and edited several films, one of which won the best comedy film at the Canadian International Amateur Film Festival, while another was adjudged by Alan Parker as the best film in the Scottish International Amateur Film Festival. Brian has also worked with a number of video formats and now edits video using software on a laptop for upload to YouTube.

Ashley Card

Ashley started volunteering at SWFTA in September 2014. Ashley is very active with voluntary work in his local community and alongside SWFTA he works with other agencies such as pluss, an organisation dedicated to promoting employment opportunities to other local disabled people.

Ashley heard about SWFTA at the Plymouth Guild, Ernest English House and decided to pursue it as it appealed to his interests. He has a keen interest in making his own home videos and spends a lot of time at home digitising and archiving his own work from VHS and DVD format. Therefore it seemed a natural progression to follow up this interest and do something that benefits the community at large.
Volunteering at SWFTA also gives Ashley the opportunity to further explore his interest in history. The local history of Plymouth and it's surrounding areas is in abundance within the archives.

Whilst he is volunteering at SWFTA Ashley mostly deals with digitising the VHS archives. The parts of the job he enjoy most are the researching and locating of footage. watching the archive and learning how to use the edit program. This is a skill that he is transferring to his own hobby at home.

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer or would like to know more about volunteering within a film archive, please contact us. 


Photographs of SWFTA volunteers (selected) at work, 2015

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