On a Spring day last month, I went to meet Glenys Lonsdale who is the Volunteer Coordinator at Sheffield Park.
We met at the well stocked shop and I was tempted to do some present shopping, it all looked so inviting and was laid out well. I had a quick chat with one of the garden volunteers who had been helping out at Sheffield Park for the past 8 years. He told me about the variety of outdoor work he was involved with, coming to help for a few hours a week gave him a huge boost, he’d met some wonderful people and looked forward to a weekly catch up at Sheffield Park. Not only had it been helpful socially, he told me that he had learned so much from the gardeners at this National Trust property.
Glenys met me with her assistant Bernadette and we went over to the cafe to have a chat and a cup of tea. A buzzy atmosphere welcomed us and some very lovely staff (many of them volunteers I later learned) served us with delicious hot tea and the most scrummy cake.
‘There are over 140 volunteers at Sheffield Park, and they all come for different lengths of time. I have one volunteer who comes all the way from France for one day a year, she loves it and we welcome her with open arms. We have volunteers who come once a week for a couple of hours and some who join us for a few days at a time when they take some holiday from work but want to do something more than stay at home.’
There are a huge variety of volunteering opportunities available, from gardening to working in the shop, helping in the kitchens to directing cars on busy days throughout the year. With coachloads of people arriving in the busy Spring and Autumn months, our volunteers are invaluable, we just could not manage without them. On one weekend last Autumn, we welcomed nearly 10,000 visitors!’
The garden comes into its own in spring with bluebells, azaleas and rhododendrons, not forgetting the beautiful water lilies floating in Middle Lake and Ten Foot Pond. Autumn is the peak season, being internationally famous for its autumn colours and sees the highest volume of visitors. Much of the preparation has been done by volunteers who come in, rain or shine, to help these wonderful gardens come to life.
if you would like to volunteer at Sheffield Park, please get in touch, 01825 790231 or email firstname.lastname@example.org – they’d love to hear from you. If there are other areas that you would like to help in with other charities be it driving, helping in a shop or assisting in fun events organised by local charities, just get in touch with us in Uckfield, all the info is on our website.