Helen Pike

We were pleased to have Ann Bolch’s skills on board when we set up our Fernlea House Memoirs Program.

As a writer, editor and interviewer, she knew exactly how to ask questions of our guests to get their memories rolling and their stories flowing. And she backed up these concrete skills with patience, compassion and an interest in people.

As an example for other volunteers to follow, Ann recorded Fernlea’s first memoir with a man in his 50s who was dying of Motor Neurone Disease. Together, they laughed, cried and pondered their way through his life.

For around one hour per week for eight weeks, Ann recorded his story and transcribed the recording, then read back the details the following week, checking the tone and the facts, and making any required changes.

With very little editing (to keep our guest’s story exactly as told), Ann compiled the transcriptions in a bound A4 booklet with accompanying photos.

Our guest could enjoy the recognition of a life well lived and his family have a memento now that he is no longer with us.

As a further service, Ann trained other volunteers (alongside Leonie Scott and the late Frances Foletta) in the art of writing questions, creating a safe space to tell stories, and listening.

She helped our volunteers learn the technical skills of recording, transcribing and editing the text. All this was done with respect for each person’s skills and experience.

Ann’s professional and personal skills would be an asset to any individual or organisation wanting their story told.