Profile: Jenny Dunn

Volunteer, Chartwell

Jenny - Volunteer

Jenny volunteers at Chartwell and Toys Hill. She tells us about her life as a volunteer.

Volunteer Jenny Dunn in the garden at Chartwell
‘I’ve been a volunteer at Chartwell for 20 years now - in fact I’ve just received a long service award.
'I help with all sorts of things, including the launch of the new Churchill £5 note, interviewing visitors about possible changes and stewarding in rooms. 
'I took early retirement thinking I could volunteer and have plenty of time for all the things I wanted to do. But now I don’t know how I managed to fit in work!’

'It feels like he's still living here'

‘Chartwell is a special place for me - the house, the grounds, the gardens, there’s so much there.
'One of the things I love is the way it feels like he’s still living there. His cigar and whisky are by his chair, which looks out of the studio window where he painted.  
'I’ve been interested in Churchill for many years. I remember shortly after I left university, in the 60s, filing past to pay my respects as he lay in state.  
'We feel, like Churchill, that “a day away from Chartwell is a day wasted”.’   
‘Whenever possible I like to do things with the children. I think they’re the future of the National Trust, like everything.
'At Easter we had Easter egg hunts. At Hallowe'en I was dressed as a witch, and last Christmas I was one of Father Christmas’ helpers, handing out presents dressed as an elf.’  

'Churchill used to put toy animals on the book shelves, as place markers for books he’d removed. One’s a panda and another’s a lion. Now the children love to go into the study looking for the animals.

'Around every corner there’s something new. The views are magnificent; you see the Weald of Kent. We have black swans on the lake (the first swans were a gift from the Australian government). There’s also a butterfly house and a pets’ graveyard. Churchill loved animals.’
‘In the past I’ve volunteered for National Trust working weekends, which I enjoyed, they’re a bit different.
In fact, I even inspired my partner to volunteer at Chartwell as well. He’s Australian, so he especially likes the black swans. Everybody here just loves the place and is so enthusiastic, you just get caught up in it.’

‘The National Trust is a charity, so money is scarce, and there’s lots that needs to be done.

I think the volunteers give a donation of their time. The Trust wouldn’t exist without donations of some kind. I think it’s so important to look after the countryside and coastline, otherwise it’d be all housing.’
‘As a general volunteer, there really is no such thing as a typical day – I work between one and three days a week, either a half or full day, whatever’s needed.
I’d recommend anyone to volunteer. To work in a place that’s so inspiring, and with people who are so inspiring as well, is very rewarding.’