A day in the life of Nick

Greenway volunteer

Nick Warboys - Greenway volunteer

I’m Nick Warboys and I’m a Room Guide and Boathouse volunteer at Greenway, but I’ve also been involved with all sorts of other projects. I’ve actually been an elf as well. When I started up I never envisaged I’d be an elf helper for Santa Claus but that’s just volunteering for you; you get the opportunity to do something you may never have dreamed of.

Volunteer Nick in the garden at Greenway

How I began volunteering for the National Trust

I came along one day as a visitor and I just thought that it might be something useful to do. Once I’d gotten here I realised that the Trust actively promotes people to develop and use their skills and expertise in a wide variety of ways. It’s just gone on from there. At the start of the season every year I come back in and don’t know what new thing I’m going to be doing but I know that I shall be doing something special; like being an elf (!) or taking around walks and tours based on Dead Man’s Folly, the Poirot novel in which every location is based on Greenway and its surroundings - the murder victim is discovered in the Boathouse. All sorts of good things; it’s just amazing.


Getting to know Greenway

I find that Greenway in particular has so many facets to it. It’s not just Agatha Christie, it’s not just Agatha Christie’s books, it’s Agatha Christie’s life in general which is absolutely fascinating. It’s the beautiful setting here, it’s the history and the timeline of the place and it’s all these different things. It’s the link between Greenway and its surroundings and the community going back right to the Bronze Age. During Tudor times ships going from Greenway – would you believe this - went right around the world. Forays to the New World were dreamed up by Humphrey Gilbert (whose family then owned the estate) and his half-brother Sir Walter Raleigh right here at Greenway . The place is just inextricably linked to the community and its surroundings and it’s a place of timeless magic.


My favourite place

My favourite place without doubt is the Boathouse. It’s an important part of Greenway because it gives added value to the experience. People come down here to the river Dart and they’re amazed at the beauty of this tidal river and its peacefulness and tranquillity and also its bustling nature, which is a throwback to centuries ago. It’s always been a bustling waterway. People can just relax here and it takes them away. You can just imagine Agatha being down here and the paddle steamers going by and then walking up and sitting on benches before going into Greenway library and having a Devon cream tea.
The Boathouse was the scene of the crime in 'Dead Man's Folly'
The sign for the Boathouse at Greenway in Devon
The Boathouse was the scene of the crime in 'Dead Man's Folly'


My best moment

I don’t know how it came about, but my best moment was when I was invited to take part in the national video for the Trust which went on the MyVolunteering page. The idea of it was to help launch the Trust’s online rota and expenses system for volunteers. One day I was standing in the Boathouse and a guy from the head office came down and said ‘would you like to do this video’ and I said ‘OK’ without knowing what I was letting myself in for. It was the launch of this national campaign - the biggest investment the Trust has made in volunteering, and what I did had the potential to be seen by 60,000 volunteers at 400 sites. Absolute privilege.
There’s all sorts of things, but I think the point I want to make is that if I didn’t come here I wouldn’t meet thousands of lovely and interesting people from all walks of life from all corners of the globe. It’s a wonderful privilege to touch all these people’s lives, and of course Agatha is a world-wide phenomenon. She’s the world’s most translated author she is the first global multi-media superstar.


Meeting David Suchet

When David Suchet and the crew came down to film the ITV adaptation of Dead Man's Folly, it was mind-boggling to see a crew of 60 people and David Suchet just wandering around Greenway in costume. We had the place open during the filming and people would be walking around the grounds and then they see Poirot scuttling down behind one of the hedges.
ITV filmed an episode of Poirot at Greenway
David Suchet at Greenway Boathouse for the filming of Dead Man's Folly
ITV filmed an episode of Poirot at Greenway
He filmed his last scene as Poirot going in and out of Agatha’s holiday retreat – her spiritual home. The end of 20-25 years of ‘Poirots’; a crowd of 400 people. There was a huge crew and documentary team, news crews, 20 odd journalists getting lost in the grounds. You would never forget that. I had lots of experiences during my career on newspapers and in the media in the south-west – but only a handful of things I remember like the Queen coming to Taunton, covering Princess Di visits. And David Suchet has got to be up there with the most memorable.


What volunteering means to me

I think its fulfilment. Working for the National Trust here at Greenway is one of the most fulfilling things I’ve ever done.