Volunteer stories at Nunnington Hall

Ian feeding the cows

Here at Nunnington Hall, volunteers and staff work side by side. Our volunteers work in every area of the house from conservation to tea room and garden, to room guiding and admin and many other areas.

Friendships are built, skills honed and new things learned in a fun and friendly environment while giving visitors the best possible experiences. But don’t take our word for it; here are just a few stories from some of our volunteers at Nunnington Hall.

Linda - Admin Support
I have volunteered at Nunnington Hall for 8 years as Admin support for catering and property
co-ordinator. I wanted to volunteer within my skillset, continuing to use skills I had acquired whilst working.  I like feeling part of a team and feeling supported and valued.
Nunnington Hall has a lovely atmosphere and I enjoy meeting a variety of other volunteers and staff from all different walks of life.

Helen - Garden Volunteer
When Kate - our daughter - was four we had a brilliant holiday in Cornwall and visited the garden at Trelissick. The garden volunteers there seemed to be doing some really interesting things and I remember thinking at the time that I'd like to be part of a team like that one day. Kate is now thirty six and I'm in my seventh year as a garden volunteer at Nunnington. When I retired from teaching it was top of my list of how I would now like to spend my newfound freedom. It has proved to be everything I had hoped it would be - an endless variety of fascinating garden jobs in a garden to which we, in the garden team, are all deeply attached, coffee and lunch breaks with lovely people and some memorable random chats with appreciative visitors. I'm not planning to stop any time soon.

Jane - Room Guide
I have been a Room Guide for over 10 years and enjoy my Volunteer role greatly.
Nunnington Hall has a great family history and unique atmosphere which is a pleasure to share with the many visitors.
It is rewarding to be a Volunteer in such pleasant and perhaps intriguing surroundings and to share this with other friendly Volunteers. The many Visitors who come are always interesting and often have fascinating stories to share and questions to ask.
I find my regular volunteer stint both enjoyable, stimulating and interesting !

Bill - Garden Volunteer
I started as a garden volunteer at Rievaulx Terrace 12 years ago and added an extra day at Nunnington a couple of years later. My initial motivation for volunteering with the National Trust was to provide some structure to my life after retiring from a fairly high pressure export sales career and gradually winding up other part-time work. I considered a number of organisations, but felt that time spent working in gardening for the NT would probably feel less “business-focussed” and provide considerable variety. I also thought it would give me the opportunity to learn new skills and meet like-minded people. It has definitely improved my knowledge of gardening and natural history. Since the early 1960’s I have enjoyed visiting National Trust properties and felt it was a worthwhile organisation to support and have not been disappointed because the work is varied and there have been numerous opportunities to contribute ideas and have major input into many practical projects which is really satisfying, alongside the regular interaction with visitors, who are all looking for a nice day out.
The role of volunteering also allows for flexibility, so if for any reason I can’t attend on a particular day or week, it’s not an issue and there are always opportunities to do extra days, for instance if there is a special event.
Both properties have unique qualities, Rievaulx being one of the most beautiful and tranquil locations in England and Nunnington Hall having the feeling of a family home, so much less imposing than a very large property. The work involved at both properties also differs, one being a natural landscape and the other more of a formal garden.
The social interaction with volunteer colleagues and staff is really important and I have gained a number of very close friendships, which would continue, if for any reason I had to give up my volunteering role. All things considered, I made a great choice!

Cathy - Room Guide
Ten years ago l had severe clinical depression. I was a member of Terrington WI, Terrington walking group and a craft group. A friend, who that time volunteered at Nunnington suggested l might like to be a room steward. I remember sitting in an induction meeting with Simon Lee who was the manager and him asking everyone why they were keen to volunteer and what we could bring to the job. I said openly, “well Simon it’s not what l can do for Nunnington, it’s what you can do for me!" It took a while to feel comfortable. I was placed with a lovely lady who was so knowledgeable but not overpowering, she was called Freda. We became friends.
My historical knowledge is still growing after ten years the problem is l forget names but everyone is so friendly. Our Tuesday volunteers group is great, and we have a natter and a laugh before our duty starts. We are all from diverse backgrounds as l once asked a team member “what did you do in your former life”, his reply was’ l was a surgeon “. That shut me up!

Maggie - Room Guide
I have just completed 12 years as a room steward at Nunnington Hall. After many years in the Midlands my husband and I returned to the area and were looking for things of interest to pursue. We were already members of the National Trust so when we saw an advert in a local magazine for volunteers we were immediately interested. I have always loved history and the opportunity to develop this appealed to me. 
I also liked the idea of spending time with like-minded people and developing new friendships. Prior to retirement I was a “Sales Development Manager” in the newspaper and magazine industry which required me to have good social skills with people from all walks of life and I thought I could also bring this to the table.
I have not been disappointed in my decision. The house has been a wonderful place to get know and love and I have made some very good friends amongst the volunteers and management. I enjoy the interaction with the visitors and like nothing more than “bringing the house to life” for those who express an interest in learning about it.
I find my volunteering work for the trust very rewarding and it’s certainly lived up all my expectations and would recommend it to others.

Aid - Room Guide
When my husband passed away I was unsure what I could fill my time with now I was not a carer. I bought some friends from Kent to visit Nunnington which at the time was open
when similar Houses were closed. When I evinced interest in Volunteering at Nunnington Hall I was warmly welcomed and it has been a pleasure to volunteer on alternative Sundays.
I enjoy meeting the visitors whom are often on their holidays and listening to their stories. Other volunteers are always friendly and supportive.  After two years I feel it is something I enjoy and will continue to do as long as you will have me!

Linda and Gary - A couple of all rounders
My name is Linda.  My husband Gary and I have been volunteers at Nunnington Hall and Rievaulx Terrace for almost twelve years.

I volunteer at Nunnington on Tuesdays, Saturdays and sometimes at special events on other days. I also established a second hand bookshop a few years ago and still help manage it today. Gary works at Nunnington on Mondays as a handyman gardener and in the same role on Thursdays at Rievaulx, and he also helps with special events.

Before we retired we both were hard-working professionals, myself in teaching and Gary was a surveyor.  We lived in Cambridgeshire for thirty years but decided that North Yorkshire would be a lovely place to retire to.  However, we found doing nothing all the time a bit boring after the initial euphoria of not having to go to work, so we looked round for volunteer work locally and discovered these two lovely National Trust properties fairly close by.  We applied to volunteer and were accepted and have never regretted it.

The benefits for us were a focus and a role in which we felt needed and appreciated, because we had moved to an area where we literally knew nobody, we needed to make new friends.  We have made very many new friends among the other volunteers, staff and visitors to the properties.  Because of this we have a really good social life outside our volunteering and have a large group of friends to socialise with when we are volunteering.  Everyone at Nunnington and Rievaulx is welcoming and friendly.  We never felt like the new girl/boy as we were welcomed with open arms by staff and other volunteers.
We are now a couple of old stagers and probably two of the longest serving volunteers, but we hope to carry on as long as we are able because we feel part of a big National Trust family.
I particularly love telling the stories relating to Nunnington to visitors, but not only that, just chatting about anything and everything to visitors really makes my day, and visitors usually tell us that's what they enjoy too.

Making new friends through volunteering
Making new friends through volunteering
Bringing history to life for children
Volunteer Linda with a young visitor
Bringing history to life for children