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

Name:
Marilyn Bradley
Job:
Volunteer
Location:
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