Get to know some of our volunteers. Find out about their experiences, their achievements and what volunteering means to them.
I love history and in 2010 I jumped at the opportunity to be part of the living history team at Mary Arden’s Farm. Mary Arden’s is a living Tudor farm and that is exactly what I have found. I've learnt so many skills, from Tudor cookery to animal husbandry. Everything that's produced on the farm goes into the house and kitchen; visitors get the full flavour of Tudor life here.
I love talking to our visitors and they come from all over the world. They want to experience the life of Shakespeare and that's what we attempt to produce to a high degree of accuracy. To help us achieve this we have regular training days which are huge fun. I feel a great sense of achievement knowing I have added to the visitor experience of Shakespeare and that they will take this away with them, leaving with a deeper understanding of the great man.
When I answered an advertisement for Garden Volunteers I didn’t know what would be involved, what I could contribute and whether I could physically cope as I had been ‘chained’ to a computer in a desk job for many years.
The members of the gardening staff have all been fantastic with their support though and they soon helped me to gain confidence.
I have now been volunteering since July 2011 and have seen late summer, autumn, winter, spring and high summer in the gardens. The work has been very varied and amongst other things I have pruned roses, weeded the knot garden, swept paths, planted borders, cut down herbs, lifted dahlias and helped take cuttings. After all these jobs I now feel I have been of assistance and have gained so much knowledge along the way. The gardeners have helped me learn the names of plants, their growing habits and how to prune and propagate growth. I also recently attended a course on pruning apple trees with the Trust and am now ready to try out my skills, starting with our apple tree at home.
I started volunteering with the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust last April because I have a passion for history, and I wanted to broaden my experience and employability while studying for an MA in Antiquity at the University of Birmingham.
I have enjoyed a variety of opportunities within the Trust: a Room Host at Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, greeting visitors and informing them about the rooms and furniture; an Exhibition Host at the Shakespeare Centre for the ‘All the World’s A Stage’ exhibition, recording the number of visitors and answering questions; a Volunteer Archaeologist on the ‘Dig for Shakespeare’ project, excavating the site, sieving finds and helping the public get involved.
These roles have all helped me to develop my skills in different areas. Voluntary work has also provided me with the opportunity to meet people with common interests and to talk to visitors from all over the world. I am very much enjoying being part of the team.
I am a fit and active 68 year old who is determined to remain so as long as possible. I really enjoy being a Garden Volunteer as during my full time working career I never had the chance to do any physical work, or be outdoors in the fresh air, so helping at the Trust gives me such satisfaction; I can see what I’ve achieved that day. Volunteering with colleagues who also derive the same satisfaction from being at the Trust is great fun for me and I am always made to feel very much part of the team, which means I am included in many of the activities that go on. Recently I was invited to join a tree pruning course to learn the proper way to prune fruit trees, so next year I will be able to assist when pruning takes place. I feel very fortunate to work in such a friendly and happy place.