A HISTORIAN who spends his spare time answering the public's questions about the heritage of Torfaen tells his story in a bid to inspire others to sign up as members of Pontypool Museum, as the venue continues to membership drive.

The museum has set a target of 1,000 new members to help make up the £19,000 cash shortfall in its budget.

Since a campaign began in February it has attracted just under 400 new members. But it needs more.

Roger Purbrick, 75, has been a volunteer in the museum’s library for three years after taking retirement.

The former British Telecom operator first came to Pontypool Museum with an art club that was holding sessions there.

He said: “For aspiring artists it is a good place to come for inspiration and after retirement I didn’t want to sit at home doing nothing so I thought it would be a good place to volunteer.”

He now spends one day a week looking through the museum's archive library and its many records, boxes of photographs, and maps to find answers for others who are often trying to trace relatives.

He said: “We try to keep the records in the public domain and have it accessible but this facility could be lost to the public if the museum closes.

“It would be a great shame to see the documents, maps and pictures stored in boxes and not accessible.”

Mr Purbrick says he finds it fascinating to learn more about local history and discover forgotten details.

He said: “I really enjoy being a volunteer as you can get lost in the history books as it is so interesting.

“Becoming a member is worth it, as well as helping to keep the venue open, there is always something going on and there is a regular turnover of exhibitions.”

Pontypool Museum Membership fees are £15 per year or £20 for a family.

Business, institution or club fees cost £60. Gift aiding is available and gives the trust an extra 25p from the government for every £1 donated.

Membership benefits include free entry, ten per cent off selected items in the shop, newsletters and voting rights at the trust AGM.

For more information call 01495 752036 or email pontypoolmuseum@hotmail.com