From volunteer to dream job

Conservation assistant, Bateman's

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Steph Poyton - Conservation assistant

Steph Poyton took the brave step after her A levels of volunteering as a room guide at Smallhythe. Now she has a paid job as a conservation assistant at Bateman's in East Sussex, the Jacobean home of Rudyard Kipling.

Batemans furniture with Christmas decoration on it

‘I finished my A levels and was soon bored and I didn’t want to go to university. I had always been passionate about history but wasn’t sure if I could make a career out of it.

'Somebody suggested I volunteer at my local National Trust property, Smallhythe. I wasn’t sure though; I’d never been there, didn’t know the history and hadn’t worked for a large organisation before. My nerves were soon calmed as everyone was really friendly and encouraging and I couldn’t wait to get started.

'I began with room stewarding – talking to visitors about the artefacts in a room, the history of the people that lived there and the building. I soon wanted to get more involved and started helping with events, displays, beer festivals, manning the office and conservation work.  I was then really lucky as I managed to get paid work with the Trust.

'If I hadn’t taken the brave step of becoming a volunteer for the Trust I don’t know where I’d be now. Volunteering has given me the dream career I never knew I could have, and hundreds of friends along the way.'