Volunteer Stories: Gareth Owen

Penrhyn Castle volunteer Gareth Owen

Joining the team at Penrhyn was a something of a challenge for Gareth but one that has really paid off, for him and us!

"I'll have been volunteering for 5 years in total in September, with 4 years in the visitor centre and food and beverage this May.

"I felt nervous at first because it was a new place and a new challenge. I think it took a while for me to settle in because I have a disability and autism but finding a routine really helped.

"It’s good to be open about your differences – but it’s also good to know that the National Trust – and Penrhyn – is open to everyone volunteering here. That’s especially true for me. It’s good to have the option for anyone to come and volunteer.

"I think it was the right time for me to volunteer. I felt really depressed before I started and it was either my social worker or my mum who suggested it. We thought that something more social would improve my mental health and I began to get a lot better once I started."

All sorts of benefits

"Volunteers have flexibility, you can choose the days you come in and if you take a break you always know you can come back. People say I need the work but I like knowing that I can come back! You have a certain amount of control with volunteering. I get to do what I want to do whether it’s catering, retail or the visitor centre. I like how different they all are. I like being able to see the castle all year round.

"I find I push myself when I am working and I can switch off. It’s a nice change from home. You can get involved with all different areas and you can speak to anyone. You make really good friends with everyone. I understand them, and they understand me, there’s lots of like-minded people around."

" Give it a go! Try it – try something new that you might want to do. It can improve your confidence and improve skills for your future career. "
- Gareth

"My favourite thing about Penrhyn is meeting people and I suppose there’s always something new. New visitors and different kinds of visitors come in each season. Easter, for example, is very different from May which is different from Halloween! There are all sorts of events each year too. It’s a different theme and the events put on at Penrhyn are different from everywhere else too.

"I’ve been to college but not university but here you get to learn so much about history. This could benefit you if you’re going to university – especially if you’re studying history. You get extra experience from doing it."

A volunteer working on the Fire Queen, the oldest locomotive in the collection.

Give volunteering a go

From gardening to golf buggy driving, helping in the shop or being a Castle Host, there’s so much more to volunteering than people think - it can be incredibly varied, flexible and fun! (Follow the link and search for Penrhyn Castle)