Volunteer profile: Meet Belinda Ashman

Room Guide, Oxburgh Hall

Belinda Ashman - Room Guide

Belinda fits in volunteering as a Room Guide with her day job. She’s learnt so much about herself and gained new skills along the way, which are also proving useful outside of her role at Oxburgh.

A volunteer standing in the window at Oxburgh Hall

Why did you become a volunteer at Oxburgh Hall?

Initially it was the desire to want to know more about Oxburgh that I began volunteering here. It is such a special place. As many visitors have explained ‘wow - a hidden gem’ and it is.

This interest to know more about the house, has over time, developed in to sharing my knowledge with visitors of its stories and history. Even though I work pretty much full time elsewhere, I wanted to do something that expands my interests and that I can enjoy.

My curiosity has helped develop my knowledge and with the help of the other volunteers it’s been good to share and understand their nuggets of information. Both staff and volunteers work as a team, this friendship is shown with smiles of welcome to visitors. Many who come back year after year.  

What do you love about volunteering at Oxburgh?

It is an opportunity to gain experience and skills. By volunteering you are carrying out a job that you not only love but you gain valuable knowledge and talents, which can and are useful in your life. You are working within a team and this allows you to learn and share those skills or information with others.

Where’s your favourite spot at Oxburgh?

This is hard because genuinely there are so many, but if pushed I’d choose the secret doors in the library! My favourite spot is the jib door and revealing it’s beautiful and seamless design. 

I love telling the story of the house during the Victorian era and creating a picture in people’s minds as to what it was like then. Next, seeing them leave with that sense of wonder and enjoyment.

Open up the secret door in the library at Oxburgh Hall, Norfolk
The secret door in the library at Oxburgh Hall, Norfolk
Open up the secret door in the library at Oxburgh Hall, Norfolk

What’s surprised you most about volunteering?

The unexpected skills that you gain. Such as being able to talk to visitors, both young and old, including being able to share my love of the house with them.

What have you learnt since joining the team?

Before I started, I thought it would be just learning the history and conservation of the house, but that was/is only part of it – I made friends. I volunteer in a place I love, and I am part of an amazing team.

What would you say to someone thinking about volunteering?

Just do it. It is so worthwhile – you learn so much about yourself. You think you won’t be any good, but it is surprising; the love you have for Oxburgh comes out and sharing it with others give you a sense of fulfilment. 

You have helped others enjoy themselves. With the friendship of the team and the environment that surrounds you, it will make you want to learn and gain skills that end up helping you in your day to day lives.