Marilyn's volunteering experience at Calke Abbey

Marilyn is involved with lots of activities all year round © Imogen Wood

Marilyn is involved with lots of activities all year round

Marilyn Bradley
Calke Abbey

Marilyn is one of our dedicated volunteers who gets up to all sorts of activities at Calke. We had a chat with her to find out why she loves volunteering with us.

Why did you first volunteer with us at Calke?

Having retired, I was looking for something that I could fill an afternoon with perhaps once or twice a week, I live quite close to Calke Abbey and thought it would be interesting to be a Room Steward (as the title was then).

I'm a 'people person' and welcomed contact with the visitors and the happy social occasions that volunteers enjoy.

Do you only volunteer in the house?

No. I also help the Learning and Events Department. This entails leading school tours around the Mansion, Garden and Park - with various themes, helping with events such as Easter Trails and Christmas.

One thing I really enjoy is organising dances for the volunteers and this evolved into a 1940s Tea Dance in the Riding School as part of Calke Alive 20th Century. The Tea Dance Volunteer Team won a volunteering award in 2010.

I give volunteering talks as part of the Trust's Talk Service and help with the Volunteers' Social Committee.

Wow! Did you have to know a lot about history?

No. When I came to Calke, history, archaeology and architecture were not subjects that I'd covered in my career as a ballet teacher. It was something that bothered me initially - I didn't want to appear uneducated.

These fears were soon dispelled as volunteer experts in these fields are always on hand if you have a question you can't answer from a visitor. We have very comprehensive folders to refer to if necessary, I have learnt so much and even lead tours on conservation. Volunteering is as much or as little as the individual wants.

Now for the ultimate question: What is your favourite part about volunteering?

I have two favourites: one is being a Tour Guide. Recently I was involved in doing research for a new tour at Calke Abbey. It's for 2012, called End of an Era and I felt privileged to be part of it.

The other is dancing, as this is what I do best after 50 years of involvement with dance - first as a professional dancer and latterly as a teacher. It's good to be trusted, with a free rein to keep coming up with new ideas.

I feel very blessed to be a volunteer at Calke Abbey, where there is so much to be involved with and to work alongside very forward-thinking staff.

  • If you would like to volunteer, get in touch with us by calling 01332 863822 or email us