Meet our volunteers
From gardeners to greeters and from explainers to educators, meet the people making a difference and find out what it's like to volunteer for English Heritage.
Sandie and Helen Chester, Monitor, Visitor Survey & Photography Volunteers at Hadrian’s Wall
I’m Sandie Chester and I’m a Monitor and Visitor Survey volunteer on Hadrian’s Wall (Free Site). Being a volunteer gets me out in the fresh air meeting and talking to people about Hadrian’s Wall which I have a passion for. Volunteering where I do is always a joy as we have the most spectacular scenery in Northumberland whatever the weather throws at you, and, as I get to choose when I volunteer, I can always avoid going out in the really bad weather!
My role as a Monitor volunteer involves checking the status of the Wall and noting any damage, picking up any litter and reporting back to English Heritage with any problems that have occurred. As a Visitor Survey volunteer, I get to talk to visitors about their impressions of the Wall and any changes that we could possibly do to improve their experience. Being a volunteer makes me feel like I am doing something to preserve a piece of our heritage.
I’m Helen Chester and I have recently started as a Photography volunteer. I am focused on Hadrian’s Wall and taking images of the various structures for the English Heritage media library. Since moving into the area, I have become interested in the history of the Wall which can be seen around us. I am also passionate about photography and the challenge of making interesting and beautiful pictures from different types of subject matter.
Roger Wyer, Research volunteer at Marble Hill House
I am one of the rarely seen behind the scenes folk supporting English Heritage as a Research volunteer at Marble Hill House. I’m now retired and a local history fanatic. After a career in computing with IBM, investigating in Customs & Excise (as was) and Document & Records management for the London Borough of Richmond and Thames, I am proud to be able to bring my skills to the table as a Research volunteer.
I believe that bringing history to life is not just about listing names and dates, it’s about people and what makes them tick. There is a huge story to be told of Marble Hill House and its 66 acres, from the first occupant, the huge character of Henrietta Howard to it’s later occupants. The story continues with the ultimate demise and deterioration of the House, until it was saved from demolition and preserved for the use of the community in 1903. During both World Wars the House served the community by being turned over to allotments and housing a public shelter in WWII.
As part of the Marble Hill Remembers project, I became interested in the names of lost service people from the area as we believed, and according to the records, that there was just under 900. This has now become a long-term project to identify and collate the WWI dead of the area turning names and initials seen on memorials, often passed by without a glance, into full names and ensuring none have been forgotten, such as Lionel Bertram Frank Morris who was the first local airman to be shot down by Manfred von Richthofen (the Red Baron) in WW1. I have now found over 3,000 names and we look forward to commemorate every person in the way they should have all this time on Armistice day at Marble Hill.
Work on this project continues and we will share more of our findings when they are complete and as part of November’s Marble Hill Remembers exhibition and onsite commemorative events in November.
JANICE BALLARD, VISITOR VOLUNTEER AT STONEHENGE
‘Every time I'm on duty I get such a buzz driving in past the Stones, and the sight of the beautiful visitor centre lifts me even more.
I elected to be a visitor volunteer, based outside. I love the way the day starts with just a few early arrivals, then half an hour and a couple of coaches later the place is buzzing. I so enjoy being able to point someone in the right direction, retrieve their ticket that's blown away or persuade a family to take an audio guide. One guy told me he had always wanted to visit, never thought he would, and was overwhelmed finally to be there. Another wanted to talk through his thoughts on the Stones with someone. I was privileged to be able to be that person and listen while he crystallised his feelings.
Part of the enjoyment is that no two days are the same. Every visitor is individual so each interaction is different, and the weather changes on an hourly basis! I really didn't expect to be so bowled over by the whole experience.’
Ron Moy, Storytelling Volunteer at Boscobel House
My role as a Storytelling volunteer in 17th Century Costume involves engaging with visitors. I talk about the costume and what my job would have consisted of, as an employee of the owners of Boscobel and its Estate.
I am particularly interested in the military history of the Civil War Period and in the Escape of Charles following his defeat at the Battle of Worcester. Given the opportunity, I talk about Charles's reign and his achievements as a Monarch, both good and bad!
AERON TAYLOR, GARDEN VOLUNTEER AT AUDLEY END
‘I've been volunteering at Audley End now for just over four years. Most of the work I do is in the ornamental gardens, though I do enjoy working in the Kitchen Garden too. In my time at Audley End I’ve done everything from planting to dead heading and weeding to mending wheelbarrows. I also enjoy sharing my knowledge of insects with the garden team and visitors. The people I work with are great and I enjoy working with all of them. This is from the Head Gardener to the trainees who spend a year at Audley End. We all have great fun working together.
I think one of my favourite jobs to do is weeding because it gets you close to the plants you work with. It is immensely satisfying to look back at the end of the day and say "I did that".’
COLLECTIONS TEAM PLACEMENT
‘The work placement with English Heritage was extremely beneficial to us, particularly as our backgrounds consisted of archaeology and art history, enabling us to put into practice what we had been theoretically taught at University.
The first week of the placement consisted of housekeeping: cleaning, preparing and arranging displays within Lyddington Bede House and Kirby Hall ready for the new season. We balanced on ladders with hip hoovers, swept, mopped and scrubbed the historic houses, much like they would have been cleaned hundreds of years ago when they were occupied within their heyday. It was wonderful to feel a connection with the houses’ past and to imagine what they would have looked like furnished, and full of life. The finished results were truly satisfying, and it was a good insight into the responsibilities of conservators and the upkeep of English Heritage properties.
The second week involved collection management at Wrest Park, focusing on: object movement, collections packing, creating micro environments and salvage/ disaster planning. We learnt how collections should be packed, stored and moved after they arrive at a storeroom post- excavation, and what sort of conditions they should be kept in; for example the correct temperature and relative humidity. The placement was brilliantly supervised by Dr Charlie Newman and Sally Johnson, who kept the fortnight fun and interesting throughout.
There were further benefits of undertaking a placement with English Heritage as we met lots of lovely members of staff along the way who gave us insights into their job roles, giving us a flavour for areas of work that we may like to apply for in the future. We were also able to take a glimpse into collections and rooms that may be currently closed to the public.’
Anne King, Visitor Volunteer at Eltham Palace
I'm Anne King and I'm a Visitor Volunteer at Eltham Palace. I have been a volunteer for English Heritage for 5 years.
Eltham Palace is a fascinating place to volunteer because of its diversity. The house consists of a medieval great hall built by Edward IV to the 1930's Art Deco extension built by Stephen and Virginia Courtauld.
Eltham Palace has been used by for filming on multiple occasions and it is brilliant when visitors come in and recognise the locations from the films!
I thoroughly enjoy volunteering at Eltham and I enjoy helping the children trying to work out the answers to the quizzes we give out! The volunteers and staff on site are a great bunch and so welcoming, it's a pleasure to volunteer there.
TRACEY HOWEY, DISCOVERY VISIT VOLUNTEER AT CONISBROUGH CASTLE
‘I have really loved helping with the Discovery Visits. They have been so interesting and fun to do. It's been really exciting sharing my enthusiasm for a fantastic heritage site which I'm lucky enough to have on my doorstep. The interaction with the children has been great, and they have gained so much from their visits; I have really enjoyed being a part of that. Thank you to the staff for making us feel part of the team and valued.’
See below for a video about Discovery Visits at Stonehenge.
Michael Stokes, Tour Guide and Explainer Volunteer at Totnes Castle
I have been volunteering as a Tour Guide and Explainer at Totnes Castle for more than three years and I am still impressed every time I glimpse the castle keep and motte as I drive into the town.
I currently lead four tours a day; enjoying interacting with our visitors, conveying my enthusiasm and sharing their appreciation of the site. My background is in building conservation and I am fascinated by historic building design, structure and materials. While a good number of our visitors share my particular enthusiasm, others are more engaged by the personal stories attached to the site. This gives me the chance to vary each tour to emphasize the aspects of the castle’s story that most engage each group!
I enjoy meeting people and sharing knowledge, the role is as much about listening as it is about talking. It’s a conversation between guide and visitors which enhances everyone’s time at the castle and highlights what a unique and special place Totnes Castle is.
Get in touch
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Meet the Volunteers