Volunteer profile: Tony Potter, Access Volunteer

Tony Potter's role as North Devon's access volunteer has taken him to work in some very different places - from a pub to a lighthouse, woodland valleys to an ancient manor house, every day is different. Here he explains more about what he gets up to as an access volunteer...

'I‘ve been volunteering with the National Trust in North Devon for just over a year. During that time I’ve reviewed and revised the access statements for the 12 holiday cottages in North Devon, and created the Accessibility Guides for Baggy Point, Heddon Valley, Watersmeet, Woolacombe, Mortehoe and Arlington Court & Carriage Museum. These are available for public viewing on the respective location websites.

Now that I work part-time I joined North Devon Coast & Countryside as a Business Support volunteer. Originally, this was to help manage the North Devon holiday cottages. However, the role quickly developed, as the North Devon team began to understand my experience and skills, into a much broader remit of work and I found myself conducting the six-monthly property inspections, revising all the access information for the holiday cottage websites, reviewing the property site risk assessments and producing the compliance folder for each cottage. 

I’ve been able to utilise my contacts as an ex-CEO of a charity that helps disabled people to enjoy outdoor adventure and challenges to help arrange disability awareness training for visitor-facing staff and volunteers. It’s been great to be able to pass on to the Trust in North Devon some of the knowledge acquired from that role. 

A key message is that it’s important always to consider all types of disability (learning, sensory, autism, etc.) not just physical limitations. The North Devon locations have adopted this approach, using the new Visit England Accessibility Guide template.  

I’ve given the National Trust nearly 300 hours of volunteer support in the last 13 months to produce this accessibility information. It’s been great to see that it has been well received by the Trust teams in North Devon. They’ve been very appreciative and supportive and, more importantly, so has the public. I sit on the board of the North Devon Marketing Bureau, as the Director for Accessibility and Inclusive Tourism, and we’re making a push to better describe our accessibility so that potential visitors can make informed choices.

The past 13 months of volunteer support has certainly had some challenges, but for me it’s personally been very rewarding to help make such a difference for our visitors with a disability. 

Tony Potter, Access Volunteer

Interested in finding out more? Email northdevon@nationaltrust.org.uk or search for an opportunity online.