A day in the life of Sue
Sue Keates, Bradley volunteer
My name’s Sue Keates and I'm a volunteer room guide at Bradley Manor. I've been here for almost two years now and really enjoy it here, I’ve met a lot of people I wouldn’t have otherwise, and I get to spend every Thursday in a wonderful environment. It’s very rewarding.
How I began volunteering
We moved to Devon in August 2015; in my previous life I was the manager of an independent bookshop in North Yorkshire. My husband took early retirement and we came down here to be nearer his family who all live in Devon. I gave up my job, my social life, friends and reading groups; everything that I did. I had a very lonely winter, as it turned out to be very hard to find another job.
We’d been members of the National Trust on and off for about 30 years and I had always wished I had more time to do things with the Trust. Also, where we had lived there weren’t a lot of houses; there was a lot of coast and countryside, but no properties where I could volunteer within easy distance. Devon is full of wonderful National Trust places and Bradley is within walking distance of my new house so I thought ‘well that’s what I’ll do, I’ll get involved and meet new people and enter a new phase of my life.’
What I love about Bradley
A sense of history
I do feel the history of England is my history. My family were here – when I was growing up it was in living memory that the two sides of my family had gone to Canada from England; so these are my roots. I feel quite passionate about local history and social history. It’s wonderful that the National Trust has been showing a lot of interest in not just stately homes but everyone’s homes, everyone’s past, everyone’s history, and opening up servant’s quarters and the kitchens. We all count.
It’s a great way to get to meet people you wouldn’t normally meet – other volunteers, and the visitors, who often want to tell you rather more than they even want you to tell them. So you do have a lot of interaction.
I spent my life in retail and although books are magic and they’re wonderful and they’re very worthy, they are still part of a commercial enterprise. I really wanted to do something that felt like it mattered and had no commercial side to it. I know the Trust needs to raise funds but it’s a charity and it’s a good cause; it’s a bit different from a shop. You’re working towards a common enterprise and common aims. ‘For ever, for everyone’ is such a brilliant slogan because it is exactly that. This is all of our heritage and it’s so important that it’s preserved and looked after, so I’m very happy to be doing a little part towards helping with that.