Jackie, Anna, Nic and Venetia (L to R) talk about volunteering for the Turn End Trust, which was set up to promote the integration of building and garden design, of which Turn End is a leading example.

What does the Turn End Trust do?
The Turn End Trust enables public access to Turn End and other examples of integrated building and garden design. It also runs an events programme which includes education, creative and community led events appealing to architects, landscape architects, garden design lovers and people who care about good design.

Why do people volunteer for the Trust? Most of the volunteers do so after having visited Turn End or because they are inspired by the work of its architect (Peter Aldington, OBE) who still lives on site with his wife.

Anna explains her own experience – she came to an open day and was so inspired by what she saw that she approached Venetia asking if there were spaces for any more volunteers and was amazed to find out that there wasn’t a waiting list! By the way, there is still no waiting list.

What are the best bits of volunteering for the Turn End Trust? The atmosphere and character of the place itself make it a real pleasure to spend time there. In addition, it can be a real joy to hear and share in the passion and enthusiasm of the visitors, some of whom are knowledgeable and well-known people.

Jackie is the full-time gardener at Turn End and is very happy to share her expertise – even during this case-study she was suggesting planting ideas to Nic and Anna as the team walked through the garden together.

What are the most challenging bits of volunteering for the Trust?  Nic explains that the number of people visiting the site for an open day (anything up to 220) presents a real challenge in terms of people flow and crowd control. It is very important to the team to allow visitors the space to appreciate the house and garden and to take photographs.

The current challenge for the Trust itself is finding enough volunteers to run the events which take place on a year-round basis.

How do you balance your activities for the Trust with other demands on your lives? For Anna, a working mum, planning is her key tool: putting Trust events into her diary at the beginning of the events year and working out how many she can realistically help with. She also diarises a few hours each Tuesday to keep up with Turn End emails and everyone knows that is her ‘Turn End time’.

This contrasts with Nic, who recognises the need for planning but enjoys moving on the hoof occasionally if time and task allows this type of approach.  He sees flexibility at short notice and good communication as key elements in delivering good outcomes.

What benefit does volunteering at the Trust offer?  The setting and the organisation of the team is so friendly and welcoming. The beauty and tranquillity of the setting has its own appeal – offering respite from your own concerns. As Anna explains, even an afternoon spent sweeping paths in the gorgeous garden setting has a Zen-like quality which is hard to imagine in any other location.

Volunteering for the Trust can be tailored to the interests and passions of the individual, whether that is in meeting and greeting visitors, helping maintain the garden, helping guide people around or preparing and offering refreshments.

For volunteering opportunities with a difference, please see the Turn End Trust website or contact turnendtrustevents@gmail.com.

Published on September 23, 2019

Image courtesy of St Francis's Children Society