Stepping into character at Ickworth

Volunteer, Ickworth

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Sienna James - Volunteer, Ickworth

When she was 13 years old, Sienna James thought her age would hinder her chances of securing volunteering work. But after being offered various roles at Ickworth, she’s proving that you can volunteer whatever your age.

West Corridor at Ickworth

'I’ve been volunteering at Ickworth House in Suffolk for a year now. History has always been a passion of mine, and volunteering with the National Trust seemed like a great way to get involved, meet like-minded people and learn new skills. Initially I thought my age would be a barrier to getting volunteering work, but I was delighted when I was offered a role in the West Wing Café at Ickworth. 

Ickworth’s atmospheric restaurant offers exquisite views of the famous Italianate gardens, which makes working here so enjoyable. Since starting my volunteering placement a year ago, I’ve discovered that once you’ve started volunteering, you can’t stop! 

After chatting to a couple of the lovely Visitor Experience employees, one thing led to another and shortly after I was proudly wearing my name badge and welcoming the public into the impressive hallway of Ickworth. I informed visitors of the rich, vibrant and notorious history of the building including its former owner, the 4th Earl-Bishop, who was more famous for his European travels than for his religion. 

" Since starting my volunteering placement a year ago, I’ve discovered that once you’ve started volunteering, you can’t stop!"
- Sienna James

So many wonderful things have come out of my volunteering. Not only have I had the chance to share my experience and inspire others, but I have been able to discover the diverse roles the National Trust has to offer. For example, I have now taken upon the role of a Living History reenactor. 

When I first heard of the monthly 1930s re-enactments at Ickworth House, I was eager to start contributing. The idea of bringing history to life and performing to the visiting public was extremely appealing. 

Soon enough, I was tying the bow on my apron and tucking a stray curl behind my ear for fear the strict housekeeper, Mrs Seddons, should find a fault!  Being an avid writer, creating a fictional Living History character was a lot of fun. The experience of stepping into my housemaid character, Ava Robinson, for a day is a wonderful experience. 

Volunteering at Ickworth is fantastic fun – everybody is very friendly and I have met so many great friends.'