Sunday, 24 November 2013

The volunteering life ... meet Geoff & Charmian

the green-fingered Charmian
 This week husband and wife team, Geoff and Charmian -- one the unsung hero of Gibside's wooden edging and the other a welcome green-fingered addition to the team -- tell us a bit about themselves, their work at Gibside, and their other interests too.

In March 2012, I started as a garden volunteer, initially just a half day as I was still working as an Associate in a landscape architectural practice in Newcastle. Hence the related interest in ‘all things green’! I quickly settled in, thanks to the other friendly volunteers and staff. One year on, my husband Geoff, a retired civil engineer with interests in ‘all things structural’ joined the gang.

Living nearby, we have had an interest in Gibside from the early days of the National Trust involvement, when the Estate available to the general public was much smaller. Now there are so many different experiences to be had - the Skyline walk in particular gave we gardeners delightful walks in wintertime when weeding wasn’t on the agenda! Great views from the tops, apart from the newly installed wind turbines at Kiln Pit Hill that are a jarring note viewed from there and elsewhere on the estate where carefully cleared vegetation and seats offer rest to our visitors and a chance to view the Derwent Valley. I wonder if the effect of the turbines on the historical setting of our Listed Buildings got a mention in the Environmental Impact Assessment!
king of the wooden edge, Geoff

A typical day involves instructions from Keith or Tam, then ‘High Ho High Ho, it’s off to work we go’ in our rosy NT tops, chatting to visitors as we work! Me to the ‘softer’ gardening chores while Geoff prefers the tougher stuff so has been wielding a pick and mel in the heat of summer, edging planting beds and part of the road system, anchoring  the corners of the new apple tree stations, his eye for ‘all things straight’ put to the test.

We both enjoy a nice cuppa and something delicious from the Potting Shed café once we are done, such an improved ambience ... and just the occasional passing wedding guest teetering along in impossibly high heels!

As for other stuff, we both manage Ebchester Community Association and Geoff is heavily involved with several local organisations including a group which has been set up to restore or replace Ebchester Boathouse (an NT property) and encourage further recreational use of the River Derwent.

I have sung in choirs for over 40 years and am Chairman of Newcastle Choral Society; I love Pilates, take care of gardens and grandchildren, socialise, (garden visits always a passion) and oh, maybe the occasional bit of dusting! 

Charmian & Geoff Marshall

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