Volunteer Stories: Valmai

Valmai sitting in one of the show rooms at Penrhyn Castle

Compared to some at the Castle, Valmai is a relative newcomer when it comes to volunteering and if it wasn't for a friend's recommendation she may never have found out just how much fun volunteering can be.

" It’s just something completely different from anything I’ve ever done. I’m not bubbly or outgoing. It’s not really something I ever thought I could do"
- Valmai

"I started volunteering about six years ago, which isn't really that long compared to some at the castle!

"I’ve got to be honest with you, it wasn’t something I’d actually ever thought about doing. I happened to be friendly with Marilyn, another volunteer here, I’d been friends with her for years and one day she asked me if I wanted to come with her and have a look around.

"I don’t really know how it happened but the next thing I knew I’d said I’d come in on a Sunday and give it a go. It wasn’t really planned, it just happened!

"It’s just something completely different from anything I’ve ever done. I’m not bubbly or outgoing. It’s not really something I ever thought I could do

"But  it’s just so interesting, it’s amazing to be able to see behind the scenes and go on tours down to the cellars with the conservation team. And you get to know all the other volunteers too.

"Regardless of the history, you just can’t fail to be impressed by what the local craftsmen achieved."

You don't need to know everything

"I’ve lived in Bangor all my life but when something like Penrhyn is on your doorstop you never seem to go. It’s not that I didn’t like visiting places – I’ve been all over. We used to travel a lot! I suppose I’m trying not to take what’s on my doorstop for granted anymore.

"That said, I don’t know if I’d even have come here at all if it wasn’t for Marilyn! But since then I’ve learned that you don’t have to know everything. Yes, there’s always more to learn and before I started volunteering I felt that you had to know it all before you even start, but you don’t. You just seem to pick things up as you go along.

"That’s what I’d say to anyone wanting to volunteer: you may not know anything now, but you will do. Not all at once, but it’ll come.

"It’s such a shame when we’re short of volunteers in the castle and rooms have to close. There’s just so much stuff hidden away. It would be wonderful to restore them, or have the resources to show them, so that people could enjoy them again.

"There’s just so much here, even for visitors who have even been a few times. There’s always something new to see."

" Having joined the NT September 2016 we brought our chain of grand-children to the Halloween event. I bumped into a face from the past in the drawing room. Valmai. She didn’t recognise me after 40 years but we soon got chatting and she talked about volunteer shortages. We joined up ourselves and since we must thank her for introducing us to Penrhyn, new knowledge, interests and many new interesting people. Thank you Valmai for introducing us to a new dimension in our years of leisure. "
- A volunteer at Penrhyn Castle