Volunteers’ Week 2024

Volunteering at Pensthorpe

Volunteers Week is a chance to say thank you to our amazing group of volunteers for their hard work and dedication across the UK.

This year, Volunteers Week takes place from 3rd to 9th June 2024

Here at Pensthorpe, we have a flock of volunteers who help to make Pensthorpe the place it is. They are busy bees, social butterflies and generally all round good eggs!

 

We spoke to a few of our volunteers at Pensthorpe to find out a bit more about them.

 

Andrew – Practical Conservation Volunteer 

What are you passionate about?

I’m passionate about the landscape and how the natural environment continually changes the habitats for all living things, as we too change those habitats. I love the diversity and range of habitats at Pensthorpeit’s like all of Norfolk’s habitats in one place, without a coast! 

What are your interests?

My main interests are the river and wetland ecology; woodland environments and land management for conservation and farming. I like the connections Pensthorpe makes within the wider geography of nature reserves in North and West Norfolk and beyond.    

What made you want to volunteer?

I’ve volunteered with wildlife trusts before moving back to Norfolk and was looking for something similar. I spotted Pensthorpe driving past and called in and picked up a volunteering leaflet in the coffee shop. 

How much time are you available to volunteer?

I volunteer a day a week.  

What are your expectations of the volunteer experience?

My expectations are to spend time outside with a sociable group of people making a practical and often visible contribution to maintaining the precious habitats Pensthorpe provides.  

What are some of the rewards you have received from volunteering?

I also volunteer a day a week too supporting clients at Headway Norfolk and Waveney: the brain injury charity. I have a brain injury and the nature of practical conservation volunteering work at Pensthorpe fits well with this for me. 

How has volunteering impacted your life?

I find my time volunteering at Pensthorpe very rewarding in the time it gives me in the great outdoors; learning some practical conservation skills; benefiting from the considerable pool of knowledge generously shared by the conservation, aviculture and gardening outdoors teams of staff students and volunteers. 

Would you recommend volunteering to others?

I would recommend volunteering for the benefit of these rewards. My advice to others considering this would be there is no expectation of prior knowledge of all the birds, insects, fish, animals and trees and plants you’ll find here, just give it a try and you’ll be made very welcome. Also, pick up a site map – I still get lost looking for the next habitat area to visit!  

 

 

Alice  – Education & Engagement Volunteer 

What are you passionate about?

Wildlife and the natural world ; protecting the environment; trying to encourage others to value and care for nature . 

What are your interests? 

Gardening, walking, playing tennis, Pilates, beekeeping, reading (novels), travel . I love being outdoors.

What made you want to volunteer? 

I retired 3 years ago after nearly 40 years in the NHS (I was a consultant paediatrician) and have always enjoyed social contact. I found that after Covid restrictions relaxed I had a bit of free time and wanted to keep busy and have a bit of structure to my week ! Working with the engagement team, especially with school groups and holiday activities is a really enjoyable way to do just that, and I’m learning new things all the time.

How much time are you available to volunteer? 

1-2 days per week

What are your expectations of the volunteer experience?

To enjoy myself, working in a supportive environment, and in the process ( I hope) contributing something useful for the organisation and the activities in which I’m involved. As I have become more familiar with what is required, I have been given more freedom to contribute my own ideas.

What are some of the rewards you have received from volunteering? 

On several occasions school teachers, and children, have thanked me for helping them to have an enjoyable and interesting day. It’s nice to feel useful!

How has volunteering impacted your life?

It has provided an interesting and very enjoyable alternative to the world of work…” lots of enjoyment without the hassles!!”

Would you recommend volunteering to others?

Definitely

What advice would you give to someone who is considering volunteering?

Go for it….. look into doing something that interests you, but maybe is different from what you’re used to doing.

 

Nicola – Garden Volunteer 

What made you want to volunteer? 

I wanted to learn about how to develop and manage a large public garden. I had recently retired and was able to give some proper time to this interest. I chose to volunteer at Pensthorpe because of its iconic ‘Millennium Garden’ which I have always loved.

How much time are you available to volunteer? 

I have chosen to volunteer for a day each week. 

What are your expectations of the volunteer experience?

That I would learn whilst also being helpful. That I would meet interesting and like-minded people.

What are some of the rewards you have received from volunteering? 

I have learnt a huge amount about horticulture by working alongside such knowledgeable professionals and other volunteers. I enjoy being a part of the team and feel valued. I’ve made good friends – so important after having retired from work just as the pandemic hit. 

How has volunteering impacted your life?

It has been good to have my volunteering day to give some structure to my week. I’ve used the things I’ve learned to develop my own garden, and even to advise others!  

Would you recommend volunteering to others?

Of course.

What advice would you give to someone who is considering volunteering?

Be open-minded about what you might do and how you will learn; treat your volunteering as you would a new job – don’t expect everything to be easy to start with! 

 

Mark – Guide in the Hide 

What are you passionate about?

Mostly bird watching but the natural world in general. 

What are your interests? 

Bird watching, conservation, photography, walking, fishing and genealogy. 

What made you want to volunteer? 

I had been a volunteer and Trustee at a previous nature reserve before moving to Norfolk and wanted to give my time to a similar cause.  

How much time are you available to volunteer? 

Around two days most weeks. 

What are your expectations of the volunteer experience?

I like to help people to get more out of their visit, and try to educate and inform them of what’s around them, which they probably didn’t notice. Also try to get more young people involved in birding. 

What are some of the rewards you have received from volunteering? 

I can’t think a better way to support my hobby and to interact with others to enable us to learn more from each other. 

How has volunteering impacted your life?

It gives me time away from the daily routine and I have met heaps of new individuals who have similar interestsThe different number of species I see at Pensthorpe is high, which always makes the day more satisfying. 

Would you recommend volunteering to others?

Definitely, if you have a skill or knowledge of a certain subject which you can use to give back to an organisation or group; you will be welcomed with open armsIt’s very rewarding. 

What advice would you give to someone who is considering volunteering?

Give it a go, you’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain 

 

Become a Volunteer – Pensthorpe

 

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