Volunteer roles at Blickling
Our volunteers come from many different walks of life. Some want to do something completely different from their working life and relish the new skills they learn here. For others, being able to use their existing talents to help us with our work at Blickling is very rewarding.
Here are some of the volunteers working with us at Blickling right now. Why not come and join them?
Carole and Brian - keeping everything running smoothly
We have more than 400 people volunteering at Blickling and the organisational management of such a team is not an easy task.
Carole and Brian, volunteers themselves, manage the recruitment, induction and training of our volunteers. They also act as a vital communication channel between all the different members of the team across all the departments at Blickling.
In her working life, Carole held senior financial positions for a variety of not-for-profit organisations based in London. She moved to North Norfolk in 2010 in order to enjoy the countryside and wildlife, and for a less pressurised life.
Brian was a senior local police officer, who since retirement has held an academic appointment and worked for three charities in responsible positions. Both are perfectly placed to take on this position.
Sue - showing off the garden
Sue has been a volunteer at Blickling for the past 14 years.
Throughout her career, first as a civil servant and then in school administration, she held a variety of organisational roles, mainly with the emphasis on customer care.
Although more or less retired since 2008 these skills continue to be useful in her volunteer role as a garden guide, where she gives groups of visitors a fascinating insight into the garden's history and planting schemes.
She helps the head gardener when there are new guides to train and mentor and also draws up the weekly rotas for the team of 12 tour guides.
More recently Sue has started working on the website: 'My role as web editor involves creating, designing and editing material for Blickling's web page. This entails writing content, choosing an appropriate layout and finding photographs. I've now had quite a few of my own pages published and seeing them go live is very satisfying.'
Sue’s experience shows that anyone can use their talents and interests in a wide variety of ways by volunteering with us.
Laura - starting young
Laura is one of our youngest recruits and she works as a room guide in the house.
In her own words: 'Volunteering as a room guide in Blickling Hall is something which not only puts my love of history into practice, but also allows me to meet other like-minded people and share my love of heritage.
The diversity of working at Blickling Estate means that I am continuously learning and developing my skills as well as thoroughly embracing history, the subject about which I am most passionate.
I'm currently studying for my A level exams at sixth form, and feel that volunteering with the National Trust helps to add another aspect to my academic career and broaden my knowledge and experience.'
The diggers - bringing history to life
We're always surprised by the fascinating facts uncovered by our interpretation group.
The group plays a vital role in bringing history to life for visitors at Blickling. They research the lives of the people who worked and lived at Blickling in years gone by, and then bring this information to life through costumed scenarios.
Some of the research is internet-based or requires a visit to the local record office. Valuable research has been carried out using material at Blickling Hall and meeting family members of former employees at the house.
The sewing circle - dressing to impress
The sewing circle is a dedicated group of volunteers with a shared passion for historic costume.
Sue, Wendy, Kate, Carol and Janet come to Blickling each week to make costumes for events and period re-enactment days.
They're helping to bring Blickling back to life by telling the stories of those who lived above and below stairs, and these costumes add authenticity.
The group also help with repairs, from dust sheets to sandbags.
Colin - down in the woods
Colin has always done a fair amount of volunteering - something he's enjoyed since he was in his early teens.
After retiring, he was keen to work outdoors in the fresh air and do something completely different from his past career.
His love of the countryside and the fact he had a chainsaw licence and can drive a tractor made volunteering in the historic park an obvious choice.
Colin says 'I love volunteering every week. I see parts of the estate not open to visitors and together we've achieved miracles. One week, I might be building cages to protect trees, the next controlling invasive species or cleaning the river. I've seen red kites, white-tailed eagles, red and roe deer. It's just a fabulous place to be.'
Green fingers in the garden
Val Weaver (right) met Iris Colman six years ago when Val became a Volunteer Gardener.
Iris had joined four years earlier and they are both members of the team that works throughout the year (except in extreme weather conditions) to help maintain Blickling’s beautiful gardens.
They undertake routine jobs such as weeding, planting, cutting down and potting up, working wherever they are needed, which could be anywhere from the parterre, the Dell garden, the walled garden or the secret garden. Iris comments on her enjoyment of working in the beautiful surroundings and the valued companionship she shares with all the other volunteers and staff.
Val has an RHS Diploma in Horticulture, which she has put to good use, but such qualifications are by no means essential. Having worked in an office all her life she now loves to be outside and the fresh air and exercise she gets as a result of her volunteering is a bonus.
Both Iris and Val enjoy watching the changing seasons throughout the year and comment on the fact that the garden looks different every time they come on duty. This is something that all our regular visitors say and it is our aim always to have something in bloom for everyone’s enjoyment.
A familiar face in the house
Val joined the house team about five years ago, shortly after she retired from the NHS, where she had spent many years in midwifery.
When asked how many babies she'd delivered she said she had 'stopped counting at 2,000', and after such a hectic and demanding career she must surely value and deserve the peace and tranquillity of Blickling.
Starting as a room guide her love of history soon became apparent and this, coupled with her ability to deal easily and comfortably with people, meant that she was an excellent choice as a guide for our Taster Tours. She loves talking to the visitors and is especially pleased when she can make history come alive for the children.
Val is full of praise for both the induction scheme which was in operation when she first arrived, and the ongoing readiness with which the professional house team members share their knowledge. She readily admits that she will never stop learning and she willingly takes advantage of the opportunity to attend the closed-season talks on a wide range of topics arranged for all the volunteers.
As you can see, the opportunities for volunteering at Blicking are much more varied than you might think. This is just a small selection of our wonderful volunteers and their roles. Get in touch if you'd like to join them.