A day in the life of a volunteer

Miles has been volunteering in the garden since 2013 as a garden guide. At the recent, 'Prior Park at Christmas' event, he got involved as an events assistant and helped the gardeners with a reindeer making workshop. He's written about his day below.


The Reindeer workshop was a great way to get the festive season underway. The main ingredient for these magical reindeers was coppiced hazel from the garden, chopped to various shapes and sizes. Not only does hazel wood provide the perfect reindeer shade, but it’s sustainable, as new shoots will grow from the resulting trunks and ensure another generation of wild reindeer.

Before the workshop, we drilled holes in the body and head. Using the same drill bit we used to make the holes in the body, we drilled into a piece of metal. We were then able to use the hole in the metal to make a precise dowel at the end of the legs/necks/tails by whittling the end and then tapping through the hole to make a clean shaped dowel. These then fitted neatly into the holes in the head and body.

Hornbeam from the garden created majestic antlers as its twigs branch out.

The Workshop

The reindeers were carefully constructed by families who had booked in advance.

They began by jamming whittled legs into the body which often required a bit of extra help from a hammer. A few reindeers had legs which were disproportionate to the others, however as reindeers’ main mode of transport is flying, this wasn’t much of a problem for the makers.

The tail, neck, head and ears were fitted in a similar process which left only the antler holes remaining. The antlers were able to be chopped by the reindeer makers from a hornbeam branch so they could choose whatever size best suited their reindeer. For some lucky reindeers this resulted in some extremely large antlers!

The reindeers were brought to life with the use of two wobbly eyes to provide 20/20 vision and a red pomp on the nose for those foggy Christmas eves. Some bells and ribbons were used to decorate these unique reindeers with each creator going for a slightly different style.

It was a great turn out with both children and adults using their creativity to make some special reindeers.