Wednesday, 11 September 2013

The volunteering life ... meet Liz & Trevor

Here in the Walled Garden we're lucky to have a fantastic group of volunteers; their enthusiasm and hard work, come rain and shine, help to keep everything looking at its very best. Here Liz & Trevor share their thoughts and experiences of their time at Gibside, and reveal what keeps them coming back for more.

Liz & Trevor in "cheerful red" NT garb
Now that we are retired, Gibside is our token gesture to the world of routine and work, and it never fails to amaze us how all the old emotions come flooding back when the alarm goes off at 7.30 on a Wednesday morning - what time is it? I’ve hardly been asleep, do I have to get up? Maybe I’ll just stay in bed for another 10 minutes....

Despite this, an hour and a half later, breakfast over, sandwiches made, flasks full of tea and rucksack packed we hit the road, wearing our very cheerful red National Trust tee-shirts.  As we climb the new boardwalk and turn the corner into the walled garden we’re pleased to see the sun is shining yet again and with a sense of pride, we notice the beds we edged and weeded the previous week are still looking good - our work has made a difference!

After Tam and Keith have given us our task for the day, we assemble the tools needed and set to it, only to be stopped by enthusiastic local visitors keen to talk about the recent changes at Gibside or to ask the name of that plant. There are holidaymakers too, keen to point out that the North East isn’t as desolate as they have been lead to believe!  Hardly have we turned around than it’s time for coffee, and maybe a biscuit or two to replace some of the energy we haven’t used yet.  The conversations with fellow volunteers are always fun, however we must crack on with our task for the day, so it’s back to the beds and more interesting conversations with visitors.  Almost immediately it’s lunchtime, how did that happen???

flower bed "spruced and polished"
(and smartly edged!) thanks to Liz & Trevor
By the time 3ish comes and our task has somehow been completed, we stand back and survey our efforts again, satisfied that the current flower bed looks magnificent and our sweat and toil has been worth it.  We’ve had some cracking conversations with visitors and our fellow volunteers, and spruced and polished up a flower bed or two so we wind our way back down the boardwalk (sometimes via the tea room), feeling that we have made a difference again.

As the work at Gibside is a world away from our former library and teaching careers, it provides the rehabilitation needed to fully unwind and enjoy our retirement.  Thank you, National Trust, for providing free therapy and allowing us to help keep Gibside a wonderful place to visit. 

Trevor & Liz Lockey

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