Welcome to Becky Hitchens, Bodnant Garden’s new volunteer co-ordinator. If you’re thinking of volunteering with us, look no further…
Becky has worked with National Trust volunteers for six years, as Visitor Services Manager at Lanhydrock in Cornwall and Visitor and Volunteering Experience Manager at Dyrham Park.
Her role at Bodnant Garden will be all about making the experience as a volunteer even better, and recruiting more (yes, more!) members to the 120-strong team. It’s a new position created because of the growth of the garden in recent years – with the opening of new areas, new refreshment facilities, extended opening times and a bigger events programme.
Becky says: “As the garden gets more popular with visitors, we need additional support from volunteers in roles like car parking, giving guided tours and helping with queue management, to make sure that visitors have a great day. As the garden itself grows we need more volunteer gardeners to help with the ever growing list of gardening tasks – imagine weeding 80 acres by yourself!”
As we get more volunteers we need more support in managing and supporting volunteers too, from simple things like making sure everyone gets a name badge and making sure everyone gets a cuppa at break time, to planning work rotas.
“I’m also going to be looking at what other opportunities there are for volunteers here,” says Becky. “Many volunteers have enormous skill-sets and there are lots of ways for people to get involved. We’ll be looking at ways in which we can offer opportunities to different groups too, such as students looking for work experience or families that want to volunteer together, as well as looking at whether there are any opportunities for volunteers to learn new skills.”
Here’s just some of our Bodnant Garden volunteers at work:
Becky has walked the walk, having been a volunteer herself as a student – in Truro Cathedral, The Royal Cornwall Museum, Bristol City Museum, the Oriental Museum in Durham and many other museums.
She says: “I learnt various skills as a volunteer, but the most important thing was learning to talk to people, from customers to directors, and the experience really helped me when starting out with my career.
“My proudest moment working with volunteers was the day we opened the roof-top experience at Dyrham Park. I recruited 90 new volunteers to be ‘roof guides’ and it was a new experience for me, having never managed a walkway suspended over a building site before! We all worked together to learn about roofing techniques, scaffolding, stonework and worked out a plan for how we’d show the visitors all the best bits of the roof. The day we opened was fantastic because it went so smoothly and the visitors really enjoyed it.
“I love working with volunteers. The amount of knowledge and the skills that volunteers bring is astounding and I feel lucky that I get to work with such generous, wonderful people every day.”
Across the National Trust we’re lucky enough to have more than 60,000 fantastic volunteers, who lend their time and provide vital support for the work we do. This #VolunteersWeek (1 – 7 June) we’re celebrating every single person who help us to care for hundreds of special places all across the country.
For more information see our website http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/bodnant-garden or visit http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/features/get-stuck-in-for-volunteers-week