Doing something great with the National Trust

Carlos Soares in the garden of Nuffield Place

Sitting across from me at Lord Nuffield’s dining room table, Carlos Soares from Rio de Janiero enjoys getting to grips with condition report work: sketching, inspecting and recording cracks or crazing on a beautiful Losol Cameo dinner plate before finally cleaning it carefully. Now living in this country for the past two and half years with his partner, Carlos’s first steps in volunteering for us were far from what he is doing today.

Graduating with a degree in Museology at Uni-Rio, he originally planned to do museum work but became diverted into the more lucrative field of hospitality in Brazil and found he was good at that too. It was an opportunity to use languages, improve his English and French and most of all engage with people from all walks of life.

He brought all these skills with him when he moved to Berkshire and, after a number of visits to various National Trust properties, he came along to a recruitment day at Nuffield Place in the Spring of 2013. It was there that we first met in the Memory Room where he was fascinated by the gramophone player and old vinyl discs.

This was the first room he started working in as a room guide when the season opened and he found it particularly fascinating to learn a real lesson that the small farthing coin with a wren on the back was indeed more than just a fictional thing he had seen in movies about pirates at home in Brazil. Here was the real thing and furthermore visitors loved to see and remember the old three penny bits as well as the farthing.

In his conversations with our visitors, Carlos observes that everyone has a different approach, some like to listen, some want to talk to him perhaps, he thinks, to check whether he knows what he is talking about, and others are simply content to share their memories of their own experiences stimulated by the 1930s objects around them. Volunteering is great because it allows Carlos to increase his language skills, make friends and build relationships both with other volunteers, staff and also with our visitors.

Carlos Soares doing condition report work at Nuffield Place
Carlos Soares doing condition report work at Nuffield Place
Carlos Soares doing condition report work at Nuffield Place

Over the last two years his work has expanded to include conservation work in both Nuffield Place and Greys Court where he has been involved in cleaning and getting the house ready each morning for opening.  Carlos’s innate love of “old and beautiful things” has found him on occasion, showing, through conservation in action, how to delicately handle and clean books from Lord Nuffield’s library in his sitting room. Here the interaction with visitors is what he loves most together with sharing his knowledge of best practice in conservation.

Ideally, having paid work in this kind of field would be wonderful but that is not his main aim in volunteering for the National Trust. It is quite simply the opportunity to do something great, something he loves so much and to discover that British people do not deserve their reputation abroad of being reserved. As Carlos says, “… we just need more time to connect with people and like the measured decanting of a fine wine what flows is the same consistent result”.


Each year thousands of volunteers join us in caring for all the special places you love