National Trust: Volunteering

PUBLISHED: 10:20 29 January 2010 | UPDATED: 16:38 20 February 2013

Young volunteers taking part in conservation work during Wisdom Week.

Young volunteers taking part in conservation work during Wisdom Week.

Volunteering is the best way to a long and happy life, reports Tara Burke

By the end of January, many of us have kissed goodbye to our new years resolutions. Weve shamefacedly failed to sign up to that new course, bunked off our gym sessions and are left wondering why we tire so quickly of things in theory that we really want to do.

Maybe its because we dont design our resolutions to be fun? Or perhaps the cost of a new course or a gym membership is a bit off-putting?

The best way to live long and happy lives is to enjoy ourselves according to recent research from think tank, the New Economics Foundation. They claim that volunteering is one of the five best ways to improve our sense of well-being along with socialising; being active; learning new things and experiencing the environment around us.

They found that it is great experiences rather than possessions cheer us up the most. So why not make your new years resolution to be happier by spending more time doing the things that will make you happy?

Try volunteering for the National Trust in Gloucestershire. From ensuring schoolchildren never forget their day trip to Chedworth Roman Villa to helping maintain dry stone walls on the Sherborne Park Estate, a day of volunteering can be a real workout for your body and soul.

If you like the outdoors, then working at Dyrham Park, Hidcote, Westbury Court Garden or Snowshill Manor as a gardener or a guide, will not only keep you fit but will also mean you get to spend time in spectacular surroundings.

If youre a wildlife lover, how about helping a National Trust warden survey birds, plants, invertebrates and mammals at Sherborne estate, Chedworth and the North Cotswolds or help to design trails on the Haresfield Estate?

Working in Hidcotes restored kitchen garden or at Snowshill may give you inspiration for growing and eating your own delicious and healthy fruit and veg

good both for the diet and for your own gardening knowledge.

Also at Hidcote, an exciting new touring arts and climate change exhibition called Plant in Time kicks off in March. As a garden steward youd be working with staff, other volunteers and visitors to be a main point of contact and help make the exhibition a success.

NewarkPark, the former Tudor hunting lodge turned fashionable home near Wotton-under-Edge and Lodge Park, both need people to meet and greet visitors and help ensure that they have a really memorable day out.

For those of you who like a bit of cultural stimulation, you can feed your mind as a volunteer in a National Trust house. Help record the vast and diverse collection of artefacts at Snowshill or work in the Cotswold manors secondhand book shop. You can share your passion for British history with visitors at Lodge Park or Dyrham Park while at Chedworth Roman Villa you could be helping inspire schoolchildren about Roman life.

Peter Vaus, from Cheltenham is one of the National Trusts star volunteers. Shortlisted for this years BBC West Volunteer of the year award, Peter has worked at Chedworth Roman Villa since 2002 following his retirement from the job of headteacher at Prestbury St Marys Junior school.

He said his role as education guide has been perfect for him. I studied history at university and doing this work enables me to share my interest with children. When I retired I wanted to keep doing something that I found rewarding and continue to use the skills and knowledge Id gathered in my career.

Working with a small specialised team of likeminded people at Chedworth is fantastic. No day is the same and I find bringing Roman history to life for the children in a way that enhances their learning on the National Curriculum is wonderful.

Last week I had a group of children and we were looking at some of the finds from the archeological digs. One 9-year-old girl picked up a flue brick and by complete fluke her fingers fell into the same fingerprints of the person who made it back in the Roman times. This really brought the whole experience to life for all of them. To see the excitement on her face and on those people around her reminded me why I love doing this work. I recommend volunteering to everyone.

As well as inspiring young people we are showing how important it is that places like Chedworth are conserved and celebrated for future generations.

Mark George, visitor services manager at Chedworth Roman Villa nominated Peter for the award. He says: Peter is reliable, thoughtful and extremely experienced. He inspires the schoolchildren who visit the Villa we get nearly 9000 school visitors each year. His enthusiasm for the awe and wonder of the Roman ruins is infectious. His work changes lives by opening up a world that these young people knew nothing about beforehand.

Hes out there in all weathers. Weve worked out that hes given 5000 hours of his time to us which is incredible. Volunteers like Peter make the National Trusts work possible.

If you want to volunteer, the National Trust needs help from people of all ages and interests. From hedge trimming in a beautiful garden or picking apples in a historic orchard to helping restore a masterpiece or telling people about how servants used to live, volunteering is a great way to learn new things and meet new people. You may well be so inspired by what you learn that you apply it in your own house and garden. You can learn just as much as a volunteer as you might learn on a course and itll cost nothing but a bit of your free time.

Find out moreabout how volunteering can help you learn new skills, meet new people and work right at the heart of amazing buildings, gardens and landscapesat a volunteer open day at Snowshill Manor, Chedworth Roman Villaor Lodge Park on 30 January 2010. or all your local property to find out about volunteering opportunities. contact details or see below.

Contact details:

Chedworth Roman Villa

Jane Lewis

01242 890256


Bob Vaughan Jones

0117 937 2501

Haresfield Estate

Michelle Oliver

01452 810052 or 07795 644381


Lisa Edinborough

01386 438333

Hidcote Plant in Time exhibition:

Laura Hetherington

Tel:01364 644503


Sigute Barniskyte

01242 890256 or 01451 844257


Michael Claydon

O1453 842644


Nathalie Bradley

01451 843056

Snowshill Manor

Dominic Hamilton

01386 842810

Westbury Court Garden

Jerry Green

01452 760461

Latest from the Cotswold Life