A Stoneywell Host

Volunteer Rob in front of the cottage at Stoneywell, Leicestershire

Rob started volunteering with the National Trust in early 2015, just as Stoneywell was opening its doors for its first full year. Initially a meet and greet volunteer but now host, Rob took a break from leading guided tours around the cottage to tell us more about his experiences and why he would recommend volunteering.

Why did you start volunteering?

This one's easy - it's always something I've wanted to do ever since I retired from full-time employment.

Ever since I was able to study, history and culture were always at the top of my interest list. This, together with my love of the Arts and Crafts period, made Stoneywell a must for me. I am also a crowd pleaser, having worked with the public for a large portion of my working life.

What is your role and what are you involved with at the moment?

For my first six months at Stoneywell I was involved in meeting and greeting, as well as some driving of the shuttlebus. I'm convinced this gave me an excellent grounding for my next step as a house host. During this time I also got to know both the staff members and other volunteers, so it proved a very valuable time for me.

I am currently hosting in the cottage, building on my knowledge almost on a weekly basis. If reaction from visitors is anything to go by, then I think I'm doing a reasonable job!

What's your favourite thing about volunteering?

It's difficult to say what my favourite part is, as everything in the main is enjoyable (apart from the weather sometimes). I guess at a push it's the tangible enjoyment I get and see from our visitors right across the site. It gives me a real buzz to see so many smiling, happy faces.

What makes Stoneywell special for you?

Presently Stoneywell has become part of my life. It's where I come to escape 'the real world'. I know for a fact that I feel better in myself every time I'm here.

Whatever the season it's my 'special place'. Stoneywell is great to photograph any time of the year. Nature, too, is always so close both in the garden and in the woodland.

What advice would you give for anyone who's thinking about volunteering with the National Trust?

I would say to other would-be volunteers wanting to join - come in and give it a try! I did and wouldn't be without it in my life now. It enhances your life in so many ways.