Celebrating 625 years of volunteering: National Trust thank you to volunteers in South Somerset

15 Jul 2019

More than 600 years of volunteering was celebrated by the National Trust in South Somerset recently, at a long-service awards ceremony.
One volunteer has clocked up 30 years at Montacute House, the conservation charity’s Elizabethan mansion just outside Yeovil. 
Rosemary Twitchett, who lives in the village of Montacute, started volunteering as a room guide back in 1989. She said: ‘I had moved to the area and was looking for something to do. It was quite a small group and you had to behave yourself! But I’ve made some very good friends.’
She particularly enjoys seeing children in the house, many of whom may never have been in such a property: ‘The joy on their faces is wonderful.’ Ranger-20day-20stone-20walling.jpg
The celebratory cream tea brought together volunteers from four properties in south Somerset: Montacute House, Barrington Court, Lytes Cary and Tintinhull Garden.
Keri Phillips, general manager for the South Somerset portfolio, said: ‘Volunteers are brilliant at sharing their love and enthusiasm for our special places with our visitors. We are really grateful for all that they do.’
Volunteers are essential for the National Trust, the largest conservation charity in Europe and there are a wide variety of volunteer roles.
Michael Ratsey, who has been volunteering for five years, delivers visitor tours at Montacute House, but also works with the ranger team to increase biodiversity. He has been growing the population of Roman snails, a protected species, on St Michael’s Hill, which is owned and managed by the National Trust.
He said: ‘I found my first Roman snail at Chedworth Roman Villa when I was three! But in 2006 I started a programme of research and ended up with more than I needed. So we released the extras and hope to start a colony locally.’
Andy Goddard is a garden volunteer at Lytes Cary Manor, but disclaims any knowledge of plants. ‘I was an engineer and after I took early retirement was looking for something else to do. I like physical work and the Trust has kindly trained me on machinery such as tractors and brush-cutters – you learn skills that you can take elsewhere. I don’t think they would trust me to weed a border correctly, though!’
‘They have taken on roles that keep our places buzzing with visitors and it's great to be able to say 'Thank you' for all that they do,’ said Julia Mitchell, volunteer development officer.
Celebrating 625 years of volunteering: National Trust thank you to volunteers in South Somerset
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