Volunteer stories: Keith and Sue

Keith and Sue, Volunteer Castle Host at Penrhyn Castle

Keith and Sue have volunteered as Room Guides at Penrhyn since 1996; that's 23 years of sharing our stories with visitors to North Wales! But as they explain, it was a far more unfortunate turn of events that first brought Keith and his wife Sue to the area.

" Keith has over 20 years’ experience of the castle, his humour and sense of teamwork and inclusion is important. Those volunteering on the same day as Keith are made to feel part of a team and invited to social events that he arranges – very entertaining!"
- Unknown Volunteer and peer

"I was just finishing up my time with the Essex police and I was planning to go and get another job when I discovered I had bowel cancer.

"Three major operations later I was feeling lucky to be alive!

"We travelled to North Wales to see our daughter who was working with the North Wales police at the time.

"I have an insatiable curiosity and this led me into the house next door to a friend of theirs. I remember standing in the lounge, staring out of the window. The view looks straight down the Menai Straits so I can see Beaumaris, Bangor Pier, the University and Penrhyn Castle. I just stood there and Keith came in behind me and I said: ‘How would you fancy leaving Essex?’ Keith paused for a moment before saying ‘Would make sense!”

"It was that simple. Within an hour we’d got ourselves a new home and we never looked back.

"North Wales was the first place we discovered after I recovered from the cancer. We just took the plunge and moved up from Colchester! We’ve never regretted a moment since."

" It’s about making life as happy and as fulfilled as possible; and laughter – I get a lot of laughter out of volunteering!"
- Sue

Why volunteering?

"After the police I wanted something to do but I was understandably limited by my circumstances. Sue saw an ad in the paper for Penrhyn Castle and so we thought we’d take a look and see.

"We fell in love with the building and when we came to volunteer all the people we saw were great."

"Once we started volunteering we soon realised that the visitors were the most important thing about the work. Having been in a job where one talks to a lot of people, I took to it like a duck to water.

"I thoroughly enjoy it, even after all these years. I like meeting all the people and I volunteer with a cracking team on Thursday.

"I like to hear people’s feedback – what they’ve got to say about the castle both the good and the… not so good. It’s about being able to impart my knowledge to volunteers and visitors alike"

"We wanted to do something different from what we’d already done but in the end we wanted to give something back. My life previously had all been work, so when we retired, even when we were looking after grandchild number one, we felt that we needed something of our own. Volunteering gave us that. .

"I get a lot out of volunteering! I mostly enjoy seeing people enjoying themselves. I want to send them out from Penrhyn thinking: ‘yeah, North Wales is great!’ I suppose I like boosting the tourism in the area and promoting all the other things there are to do here. 

"It’s about making life as happy and as fulfilled as possible; and laughter – I get a lot of laughter out of volunteering!

" I couldn't recommend volunteering enough. I'd tell anyone who's considering it not to think twice about it. You’ll meet new friends and just be able to get stuck in."
- Keith