My name is Fern Chambers and I’m one of Hardwick Halls many volunteers; a visitor experience volunteer to be exact. Now I know that sounds rather wordy but what it actually means is that I deal with customers little questions while I happen to be round and about the estate, to making sure no tweet remains unanswered.
Only recently I was sat at my desk at Lloyd’s mortgage department. I can’t say that I really imagined myself there age 19. I think I’d imagined myself on the way to landing my ideal job, or maybe studying at university. Perhaps somewhere a little more exciting or somewhere that didn’t involve a hundred phone calls a day regarding mortgages. Now I’m lucky enough to be sat writing this very blog at the lovely and entirely breath-taking Hardwick Hall. Now if I was going to volunteer at a National Trust property why would it be anywhere else other than the home of Elizabethan England’s most charismatic woman? (And also the home of Malfoy Manor to Potter fans of you out there.)
My volunteering came about through me beginning studying towards my degree in Events and Tourism management; part of this includes me spending a day working. Now every Thursday I spend the day at Hardwick dealing with mainly social media. From updating our blog to posting on Twitter; my time spent scrolling the newsfeed of Facebook and my 6,000+ tweets could finally be put to use. (Fitting something you want to say into just 140 characters is a lot tougher than it sounds!)
On my first full day volunteering, I’d started the day wondering how on earth such an estate was going to find something I’d be useful for. This was most definitely put to rest once my manager Emily talked me through what I’d be doing. The rest of the day was made up mostly of joining the tours to improve my knowledge of Hardwick; another volunteer Harry Broadhurst was leading the tours around the Hall and Gardens. We focused on the history of Bess of Hardwick and the architect behind the property; Robert Smythson. Being quite a bit of a history fan anyway I loved this part of the day.
On another of my days here I spent the morning getting lost in the gardens taking photos for Twitter and Facebook where I bumped into Brian; a garden volunteer who kindly gave me a guided tour of the gardens – educating me along the way on the plants and trees we have here – all the while dodging apples from dropping onto our heads while we were in the orchard.
I don’t think I’ve spent a day here yet where I haven’t heard volunteers in the office below bursting into song which probably says a lot about being at Hardwick. Now I’ve been here for a few weeks I can definitely say that volunteering for the National Trust is all it’s cracked up to be – if not more.
If it sounds like something you might be interested in here’s a link to the Trust’s volunteering page: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/get-involved/volunteer/