Volunteer profile: meet John

Estate Volunteer, Countryside Team, Felbrigg, Sheringham Park and West Runton

John Kaye - Estate Volunteer, Countryside Team

John is one of our estate volunteers, who supports our countryside team across the whole portfolio at Felbrigg, Sheringham Park and West Runton.

Countryside Volunteer John Kaye

Why did you become a volunteer with us?

I retired from the civil service working in prisons, and living in Dereham at the time, saw a volunteer day advertised at a local school and decided to pop down and find out more. There I met lady from the Norfolk NTV group and decided to join them. As part of NTV group I worked a number of weekends at different sites including Felbrigg and that’s where I met the team. One day I asked Richard (Countryside Manager) about volunteering at Felbrigg and decided to join and volunteer with the team. That was 13 years ago now!

What do you love about volunteering at with us?

Being part of a team and working together with like minded people you get on well with. Every day is different, and I love doing something so different to what I did in my work life outside the Trust. There's so much we get involved with – from installing tree guards, tree work, fencing, fixing gates, relaying paths, and planting new trees and saplings. Being able to see your hard work and see the growth of an area is really rewarding.

Where’s your favourite spot across the different sites?

My favourite spot is off the beaten path in the Great Woods at Felbrigg. It's peaceful and amazing to be surrounded by variety of trees. But equally I enjoy being in the more popular areas and talking to visitors about the trees and wildlife. I am still learning and discovering new parts of our estate and those that say Norfolk is flat are wrong!

What’s surprised you most about volunteering?

How enjoyable it is no matter the weather. You can go home completely soaked through but still come away with smile on your face and that you have done your bit to help. I've learnt so many new skills and you're never to old to learn. 

What have you learnt since joining the team?

I've learnt all sorts of new skills, from how to use certain elements of machinery, to tree health and how to identify new trees. Lots of practical land maintenance skills from the varied knowledge of people in the team – both staff and other volunteers. 

What would you say to someone thinking about volunteering?

Just go for it. Try a role you think you want to do, but there are always different areas you can get involved in and have a go at doing something you may not have thought about and something you maybe haven’t done before. The team are very supportive and National Trust is the place to volunteer as you wouldn’t get better or more dedicated group of people to work alongside.