Volunteer Bronda Parsons
Castle volunteer, Croft Castle
Read on to discover how Bronda and her granddaughter, Marli, work as a team to welcome people to Croft. There's a role at Croft for all ages and interests; check out our volunteering opportunities online to see how you can get involved.
What did you do before you came to Croft?
I've a nursing background - my husband was an engineer in the army, so we travelled a lot - the Middle East, sixteen years in Germany - so my work fitted in around that life and having three children.
Why did you choose Croft?
We came to Herefordshire by chance really - we liked it and thought the peace and rural countryside would be a good place to retire to. I chose Croft because it has a fantastic long history of the Croft family and has beautiful parkland - quite a spiritual place, and I feel part of something ancient but at the same time the castle rooms feel lived in and cared for.
What does your role involve?
I work in the castle, welcoming visitors, and also as a tour guide as I enjoy sharing the stories of Croft with people. This last Christmas, I joined the festivities and became Mrs Christmas; talking to very excited children in our magical workshop.
I've been at Croft for seven years now and I usually do half a day a week, sometimes more if there is something special on. I live about 10 miles away, but some volunteers I know come from a lot further away.
What's the best part of volunteering at Croft?
I love meeting new people and I have a special interest in the Norman period of Croft's story. I find the long and eclectic history of the castle fascinating and really enjoy sharing this with people.
What advice would you give to someone thinking about volunteering?
I think you need a genuine like of people and feel comfortable talking to visitors. Learning Croft's long history timeline can look a bit daunting, but you can do it in bits as you go along and the staff are always willing to help.
My granddaughter Marli, who is 12 years old now, started volunteering at Croft two years ago with her grandpa, who is a ranger, helping with the children's trails. This year, Marli has been with me in the castle, welcoming visitors.
Here's Marli's take on volunteering at Croft...
Why do you volunteer at Croft?
I volunteer because, simply, I love it. The variety of people that we get to speak to and the range of personalities has definitely given me the confidence speaking out in my everyday life. For a young person, it's often fairly hard to speak to adults, but wearing a volunteer badge and a smile makes me feel part of something special; a close network of wonderful people working to provide the best experience for visitors - young and old.
Why Croft Castle?
I first came to Croft when I was six months old! I've been coming here ever since. I started as a volunteer ranger with my grandpa, fixing signs, running children's activity days and much more. As I got older, I wanted to see what volunteering in the castle was like. I tried it and loved it - the visitors, the other volunteers and the fascinating history.
What do you do?
I'm a castle volunteer; working with grandma, I welcome visitors to the castle and provide them with all the information they need for an informative and enjoyable visit.
Occasionally, I go round with some of the other volunteers and wind up the clocks, or they talk to me about the family tree which is upstairs in the castle.
How often do you volunteer?
I don't volunteer as often as I would like to, as I live very far away. I come in the school holidays; I love the children's trails as they're always very imaginative and clever!
What advice would you give to other young people thinking about volunteering?
My advice would be to go for it; it's really good for your self-confidence when interacting with people and it's great work experience.
My school is very into volunteering and having their pupils' CVs as full as possible. The school offers all sorts of volunteering opportunities, along with Duke of Edinburgh certificates and a Combined Cadet Force. Croft always gives me lots of stories to tell my friends when I get back to school.