Q & A Virginia Wright

Tell us a bit about yourself

I am a registered Blue Badge Tourist Guide and have been since 1976. Leicester was the first industrial city to have a team of nationally qualified tourist guides. Over the years I have immersed myself in the history of the city and county. The work has involved presenting the story of Leicester both historical and contemporary in an interesting and informative way to the public, residents, visitors, travel agents, employers etc. This has been mainly in the form of guided tours of areas and building but more recently has developed into presenting talks with PowerPoint presentations to groups who may no longer be able to go on walks.

I have also worked as a freelance, professional genealogist, carrying out research for people whose families have Leicestershire and Rutland roots and/or connections. Initially, the research was all based at the Record Office, using primary sources but as more local documents and records have become available online, I have made use of digitised images.

One of my current involvements is researching the South Knighton area between the wars, 1919 – 39. There is a group of us who have each taken on a specific topic; mine is the break-up of large estates and demolition of the large houses in the area and the subsequent building of smaller properties more suited to 20th century life.

What do you most enjoy about being in Leicester?

I am Leicester born and bred and have a great fondness for my home town. It has a long and varied history and over the centuries has embraced progress. Today many people seem to regard the city and county as a place to pass through on the way to elsewhere. I enjoy surprising them with details of who and what Leicester and county has produced.

What do you know about the history of the University of Leicester?

Growing up in Leicester I have always known that Leicester has a University. Perhaps my first memory would be of being among the crowds welcoming the Queen as she drove down Gartree Road from Stoughton airport on her way to Leicester university to open the Percy Gee Building in May 1958.

During the course of my research into various aspects of local and family history I have become aware of many of the personalities who have been associated with the instigation and promotion of the University over the years. The social contact, networks between these individuals has always fascinated me.

Have you volunteered before?

In the past I have served on committees for the local Scout group, the Friends of the Record Office, the Castle Park Festival.

I have volunteered as a welcome at St Mary de Castro Church as part of their Open Door project.

Currently I am a volunteer house guide at Donington-le-Heath Manor House – the 1620s House, where I meet a variety of people, show them around the property and explain its history. To help me in this role I have undertaken to research the branch of the Digby family who lived in the house in the 17th century. This is an ongoing project.

What are your views about volunteering?

I think that the opportunity to volunteer makes people feel valued and that they, in turn, are a very valuable asset for the wide variety of resources they are able to bring to any project.

What do you expect to learn?

A lot more about the undiscovered networks and links that brought the University into being.

Archival and further research skills.