Jana's story at Charlecote Park

Charlecote's Twelve Days of Christmas cake created by one of our volunteers

Our volunteer photographer Jana is one of 300 volunteers who keep Charlecote going. Her pictures illuminate our website and social media all year round, and her volunteering means the world to her. However, her talents go beyond photography.

At home, when Charlecote volunteer Jana isn’t caring for her children with autism, she turns to baking.  Regular visitors will remember her impressive gingerbread rendition of Charlecote two years ago and last year’s delightful gingerbread Victorian kitchen.

Jana creates something special for us every Christmas
Gingerbread house of Charlecote Park at Christmas
Jana creates something special for us every Christmas

This year, Jana decided that it was time to “go big or go home” and created a Twelve Days of Christmas cake which stood 4 feet 7 inches tall.

It took her about a month to make and was inspired by her love and knowledge of Charlecote.


Why volunteer?

Each of our 300 volunteers has a different reason for volunteering.

Caring for her family is Jana’s priority and she says “the time that I do manage to get out of the house is really precious to me. I love walking and photography and National Trust membership has helped me keep my sanity as my children have been growing up. When I’m looking through my camera it’s the only time when my mind is clear of thoughts about my day-to-day challenges.

Volunteering at Charlecote means I can give something back to the place that has given me so much enjoyment. As soon as I started I felt like I was part of a community.”

Autism and the outdoors

Charlecote doesn’t just provide an escape for Jana: “Autism and busy places really don't go together. A lot of the time autism itself isn’t an issue, but other people’s reaction to it can be. The countryside is the only place my children have ever really been happy outside our own home.

“We often visit National Trust places because there I don’t have to worry. When I watch my children outdoors I don’t see autism, I just see my kids being themselves.”

A precious moment of tranquillity for our volunteer photographer
Volunteer photographer Jana in parkland at Charlecote
A precious moment of tranquillity for our volunteer photographer