Volunteer profile: meet Margaret
Food & Beverage Volunteer, Room Guide, Felbrigg
Margaret is a volunteer who works across a variety of teams at Felbrigg, supporting our food & beverage team, helping in our bookshop and helping in the house as a Room Guide.
Why did you become a volunteer at Felbrigg Hall?
After retirement I wanted to give something back to the National Trust. After my mother was wheelchair bound with a stroke, Felbrigg and other properties provided somewhere safe and easy to go to.
As well as protecting buildings the National Trust protects much of the Norfolk coastline.
I have always enjoyed history and meeting people.
What do you love about volunteering at Felbrigg?
The opportunity to meet people of all ages who visit for a variety of reasons - all perfectly valid. Particularly in the café, there are plenty of opportunities to help people of all ages, those with young children, the elderly or the less mobile.
When the property re-opened after lockdown and some people were still nervous, there was ample opportunity to give them confidence, for example, to ensure they were given space and that tables were properly sanitised. Initially after a long unrelenting winter people were just so glad to be out.
Where’s your favourite spot at Felbrigg?
Ooo that is a nice question! Too much choice perhaps... The South facing front of the 1620s house. When the sun shines, it is warm, the façade is just lovely as are the views across the parkland - what’s not to like?
What’s surprised you most about volunteering?
The variety of roles on offer. I started a room guide but other opportunities arose, such as tour guide including attics and cellars, introductory talks, conservation, the second hand book shop and now the café…!
What have you learnt since joining the team?
The importance of team work. This has become particularly obvious to me during the last couple of years when I’ve worked as part of the Food and Beverage team. The F&B team have been so helpful to me as it has been a steep learning curve at times and they’ve been patient when something goes wrong. I’d worked in education before retirement and hospitality was a whole new world for me and at times quite an eyeopener.
On a more concrete level, I’ve obtained qualifications - Food and Hygiene level 2 and Allergen training. Passing these gave me as much joy as getting my degree as a mature student from the OU.
What would you say to someone thinking about volunteering?
I wouldn’t hesitate to say give it go and perhaps by trial and error find a role you enjoy and are physically able to carry out..
If in the house you can learn the historical details. Start with Felbrigg the Story of a House. If asked a question, don’t be afraid to say you don’t know but will try to find out.
Forget what you did prior to retirement, you are a volunteer not a manager and finally do not consider any job too menial.
You will be well supported overall by the Volunteer manager and then by someone appropriate either in the house, the garden, the book shop or the courtyard café. You will be given training too.