125 Portraits volunteers showcase
We’re shining a light on the many incredible people who support our cause in our online exhibition, based on our book 'A Portrait of the National Trust'. The dramatic black and white portraits were commissioned by Chris Lacey, our former head of photography, to celebrate our 125th anniversary and taken on location by photographer John Millar. This selection of six full-length portraits from the book celebrates our volunteers, who generously give up their time to help us look after the places in our care.
The full collection of 125 portraits of the staff, volunteers and supporters is available in our book, 'A Portrait of the National Trust: 125 Stories for 125 Years'.
We depend on the skills and passion of our volunteers. In 2018–19 more than 65,000 volunteers gave almost 4.8 million hours of their time in over 500 different roles, from beekeeping to firefighting, to support the work we do. This year our incredible volunteers are helping with the mammoth task of safely reopening the parks, gardens and historic buildings in our care, following the coronavirus lockdown. We could not do what we do without their support.
Arjun Dutta, volunteer urban ranger
Arjun Dutta volunteers at Morden Hall Park in London, where he helps take care of the woodland, reedbeds and meadow habitats for nature.
'My greatest passion is spending time in natural landscapes and birdwatching, but I find I can’t enjoy it as much when I see nature struggling and in decline. I’ve been volunteering as an urban ranger at Morden Hall Park since February 2018. It’s my favourite place to visit when I’m feeling a bit stressed out or have a lot on my plate. Even if I don’t see much birdlife that day, I feel calmer and more relaxed and can take a step back from everything.'
" Morden Hall Park is my much-loved 'patch' in bird-watching terms."
Joan Capel, bookshop volunteer
Joan is our oldest volunteer. She celebrated her 102nd birthday earlier this year and has been a volunteer at Erddig, Wales for more than 30 years.
'I started volunteering here by accident. I discovered that the meals at National Trust were rather good, especially at Erddig, so I started coming most weeks. One day I got talking with the girl on the reception desk. Before I knew it, she’d introduced me to the volunteer manager and I’d found myself helping out, first in the house and later in the bookshop. I do love it. Let me start talking about Erddig and I’ll talk until next Christmas! It’s a place you can easily fall in love with.'
James Drury, volunteer
James began volunteering at Longshaw Estate, Derbyshire, with his carer Andrew as part of his Duke of Edinburgh awards.
James’s father Peter says that being outside in beautiful surroundings and socialising with his carer, the staff and visitors make James feel good:
'James has profound learning disability and autism. His volunteering forms part of his routine. It gives him a social life, as he’s spending time outdoors meeting other people, whether that’s Trust staff or families out walking on the moors. He’s got an amazing smile and so much charisma. People just warm to him. James is part of the team at Longshaw and he’s a great example of what can be achieved with the right support and the right attitude.'
Thisbe and Cecily Weaver, beach clean-up volunteers
Sisters Thisbe (12) and Cecily (10) live close to the beach at Stackpole, Pembrokeshire. For the last two years they've been helping clean up the litter that washes onto the shore.
‘We’ve been coming here ever since we were really young. It’s just really fun to be at the beach. We love bodyboarding or sometimes just relaxing by the waves. We’ve made up loads of games on the beach and litter picking is now just another fun thing we do here. We really enjoy it and it’s nice to be able to make a difference alongside other volunteers.’
" The area here is important to us and we enjoy helping to make a difference."
Carlos Soares, conservation volunteer
Shortly after moving to the UK from Brazil, Carlos put his hospitality skills to use volunteering at Nuffield Place, Oxfordshire.
'I’m a conservation volunteer as well as a room guide and a tour guide. I’ve been a volunteer for five years and I’ve built up so many friendships in that time. As a group of volunteers, we call ourselves ‘The Friday Team’. I know that on Fridays I’m going to meet my friends and I’m going to have a great time. I like to speak to people about conservation projects as I’m working on them, such as when I’m cleaning books or looking after porcelain. I also love being able to show the house to people who haven’t been here before.'
Matthew Oates, specialist volunteer
Matthew is one the country’s leading specialists on butterflies and entomology. He was our National Specialist for Nature for nearly 30 years. In retirement he’s still supporting us as a specialist volunteer.
'I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t merely interested, but impassioned, dedicated, to nature. From the age of nine or 10, my major interest has been in butterflies. They are incredibly special insects. They’re not just pretty – they’re wonderful, integral parts of the ecosystem. We need them as pollinators, but also to tell us what’s going on in nature generally. They’re like canaries in the mineshaft. What affects a butterfly today may well affect our own lives tomorrow.’
125 Portraits online exhibition
Delve into the stories and portraits of our staff, volunteers and supporters