My volunteer experience

Two of our volunteers - Martyn and Wendy

.....Initially it was a bit daunting even for me who has lectured to audiences of 500 people, mainly because I was still unsure of all my facts. With kind help from other volunteers I soon got into it and learnt the stories I needed to tell.

Why did I volunteer?

I had just retired from been a practising dentist for 45 years in Banbury, Oxfordshire in February 2016.

So what to do in retirement I asked myself?

Something I could get involved with, meet new people, learn new things and use my lecturing skills I had learnt during my career. My wife and a colleague suggested doing volunteering work for the National Trust and the obvious local place was Upton House

I applied and was interviewed by a few members of staff including my ex colleague. An interesting experience as I used to be the interviewer in my practice! After 3 more full days of training I started doing the volunteer work in a position I felt I could enjoy and be good at, namely welcoming visitors with a short introduction as they entered the house.

How I have grown into the work

Initially it was a bit daunting even for me who has lectured to audiences of 500 people, mainly because I was still unsure of all my facts. With kind help from other volunteers I soon got into it and learnt the stories I needed to tell. It then became apparent that I could contribute to new projects, which I did and now have gone on to do some tours of the house on my own.

There is still so much to learn but that is part of why I joined, to use my brain and not let it retire.

Friends I have made

It worked out for me to do a Friday and by coincidence I teamed up with one new volunteer with whom I worked well, and had fun as a double act. Another very experienced volunteer gave me much information about the property, the Bearsteds and volunteering and was extremely helpful.

Once you go regularly on a particular day it becomes a social event, catching up with the lives of other volunteers and sharing experiences

What it means for me

This National Trust work gives me a day out meeting people, feeling I am doing some good voluntary work, keeping my skillset working and I am sure my wife is pleased I am not just staying at home all week!

I meet lots of ex patients which is always fun and have a great time talking and educating people about the house and it’s owners.

How long have I been doing it?

Amazingly I have realised I have been doing this work for over 18 months and no longer feel a newbie! Time flies. I look forward to many more years of volunteer work and indeed am going on to help new recruits learn the ropes – just like I did last year.

Martyn Amsel - Welcome Host