Jean Bellaby: a multi-talented volunteer
by Rosemary Annable on behalf of the Belper North Mill Trust
17 January 2019
The Belper North Mill Trust records, with regret, the death of one of our longest-serving volunteers. Jean Bellaby was a popular guide and an invaluable, multi-talented volunteer at the museum for almost 20 years. She attended the inaugural meeting in 1995 to recruit local people to help establish and run a visitor centre, initiated by Amber Valley’s tourism unit, and helped with its development into an accredited, award-winning museum.
Jean’s main role was as a guide (both in the mill and on heritage walks) but she had many talents and could turn her hand to anything – and did just that. Her innovative skills as a seamstress produced the costumes for school visits, still used by the mill’s Education Team, and a wide variety of other display materials to help visitors to appreciate and enjoy the museum’s many stories.
A quiet and rather shy foil to her more flamboyant husband Arthur, sometime Belper Town Crier and also a North Mill volunteer, Jean was always ready to help, including in any emergency. Following Arthur’s death, Jean decided that she would retire, but a call for urgently needed assistance one day brought her back to the mill – and to guiding visitors around the museum and Belper.
Shortly after she finally retired Jean attended the volunteers’ celebrations at the mill, marking the 20th anniversary of that first meeting when her volunteering began.
Her contribution to the North Mill and to the Belper North Mill Trust was enormous and we remember her with gratitude and, for those who had the privilege of knowing her, with affection.