Meet the Team

black and white photograph of elgar birthplace cottage

Meet the team that make The Firs a great place to visit

The team at The Firs
The team at the Firs
The team at The Firs

Stuart Webb - Operations Manager

I joined the National Trust to head up The Firs in September 2017 and with the opening just days away, had to hit the ground running. With a background in the heritage and music sectors, and a lifelong fan of Elgar and his music, taking up the post of Operations Manager at the birthplace of Sir Edward Elgar was a fantastic opportunity and genuine privilege for me.

 Previously, I have spent an incredible ten years at Lydiard Park leading the transformation of this stunning country estate and former seat of the St John family towards a vibrant visitor attraction that now enjoys some three quarters of a million visits a year. 

At the Firs, my role is to lead the development of this extraordinary place, and to work with the hugely knowledgeable team of staff and volunteers, and our partners locally and nationally to build a memorable experience for visitors, one that truly does justice to the legacy of Elgar, and brings lasting focus and celebration to the life and music of this extraordinary man for everyone.

Kirst Bothma - Visitor Experience Officer

My name is Kirsty Bothma and here at The Firs I am the Visitor Experience Officer looking after everything that gives visitors a great day out. I’ve been working here since February last year and have fallen in love with the quaint cottage where young Edward Elgar was born.

It is such a family home I can imagine moving myself in and sitting in front of the fireplace with a cup of tea and a good book in winter and having picnic’s in the peaceful and slightly scruffy garden in summer. I have recently become an avid National Trust visitor over my last 4 years with the Trust and on most of my days off you will find me in a local property. One particular reason I enjoy my role is because I know how much myself, my partner, my friends and family enjoy visiting special places like this because we are making memories and having that quality time together. One of many goals is to help visitors make their own special memories. 

Before I worked for the National Trust I have suffered with ME/CFS for a number of years and struggled with normal daily life, I made my way through a Medieval History degree at the University of Liverpool and was incredibly happy to receive a 2:1 only 3 points of a 1st (I am self-confessed perfectionist). 

After that I volunteered at a local museum in Worcester called Tudor House and worked with a whole cast of brilliant people who helped me shape my career in heritage, this is also where I met my fellow staff member Joe Tierney. From then I started working part time at Croome, again the brilliant staff and volunteers helped me increase my responsibilities and hours there which meant that finally this year I have been healthy enough to work full-time.  

Opening up this new property has been tough and challenging but I am so glad I have been part of the project from the beginning because I really value my work and my workspace which is so important to me. I cannot wait for the next five years to make it a real success. I also just love chatting to visitors and sharing what I adore about The Firs - so do say Hi if you see me around. 

Joe Tierney – House Steward

My role comprises of caring for the Firs’ collection and historic fabric. I also liaise with the wider community to help engage as many people as possible, helping to facilitate working in creative partnership to bring the story of Elgar and his music to life. It’s a huge privilege to be able to work so closely with such a dedicated team of museum volunteers and fellow staff members. I’m really looking forward to fostering a vibrant sense of culture, creativity and community here!

I started working for the National Trust in May 2015. Previously I had worked for English Heritage and had volunteered at several of my local museums and heritage attractions in Worcester, my home town.  

The Firs, Elgar’s Birthplace represents just the latest chapter in my career with the National Trust. Caring for such a hugely important collection and place is daunting – but nonetheless hugely exciting! 

I can’t wait to see what the future hold for the museum and the people who help to make it such a wonderful space – volunteers, visitors and staff.

Katherine Alker, Garden and Outdoors Manager 

Hello, I am Katherine Alker, Garden and Outdoors Manager for South Worcestershire properties, which comprises Croome, The Fleece Inn, Middle Littleton Tithe Barn and The Firs. I have worked for the National Trust for over 15 years; at Croome for 11 years and prior to that at Hanbury Hall. I studied horticulture at Pershore College and also have a BA Hons in Geography. I am lucky to have found a career that I really enjoy, and to work for an organisation that is part of so many people’s lives.

I enjoy sharing the stories of places with people; how we have restored over 700 acres of one of the greatest C18th landscapes by ‘Capability’ Brown at Croome, and now, in complete contrast size-wise, how we are presenting the garden of The Firs, where England’s greatest composer, Sir Edward Elgar was born.

Rosie Smith - Catering and Retail Supervisor

Hello, my name is Rosie Smith, I’m the Catering and Retail Supervisor at the Firs. Looking after the wonderful tea room where we serve amazing cakes, cream teas and light lunches. As well as oversee all that is retail from our fantastic National Trust stock to the fabulous locally sourced products. 

 I first started working for the National Trust at one of their properties in Derbyshire.  Calke Abbey is a large stately home with a deer park; here I helped oversee the running of the shop and several catering outlets. 

At the beginning of the year, I heard about a wonderful project that was happening in Worcester. The National Trust, were developing The Firs, Elgar’s Birthplace. I made the big move from my family home in Derbyshire to Worcester just around the corner in Lower Broadheath and on a nice day I even walk to work. I’m so excited for the future and what the next five year hold.

Vikki Williams – Cook

At The Firs my role consists of making all of the delicious food that is available in our brand new Tea-Room. 

Prior to working at The Firs I was a baker at Croome Court our sister property and before that managed a local music venue for five years. 

Over the next few months I look forward to increasing our menu so we can offer more hot food lunchtime options and breakfast too so people can start there day off right.

I am also endeavouring to make sure The Firs caters to people with various allergens or dietary requirements. 

As a vegan I find it difficult to find delicious healthy food when dining out, here at The Firs we are all about inclusivity so I want people to feel welcomed and be able to enjoy their day out without having to worry about their dietary requirements.

Dawne Middleton - Assistant Gardener

I started working for the National Trust in April 2018, and as one of the newest members of the team, I am hugely excited to be involved in the development of the gardens at The Firs. It’s fascinating to see how this beautiful cottage garden could have been the initial catalyst for Elgar’s lifelong love of the Worcestershire countryside.

I’ve been passionate about gardening for as long as I can remember, and I've recently studied RHS Horticulture via BMet at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens, I'm keen to apply my knowledge and experience to make the cottage garden at The Firs somewhere special for visitors to enjoy and to return to.

Will Watson - House Steward

Hello, my name is Will Watson and I am a House Steward for Croome Court and The Firs. Although my role is primarily at Croome Court, I am excited to be a part of the Firs team helping care for the collection and historic fabric of the building. Helping visitors access and engage with our collection at the Firs is incredibly rewarding and a great privilege.

I have been with the National Trust since 2016 as both a volunteer and staff, having the opportunity to work at some fantastic places such as Hanbury Hall and Packwood House. With the Firs being a very new property to the National Trust it is exciting to see what lies ahead, and I hope we can keep helping people explore the life of one of the greatest British composers, Sir Edward Elgar.