Volunteer Interview Blog 2021

Volunteers interview blog

1- 6 Jun 2021 marks National Volunteers Week! Now that COVID-19 restrictions allow it is a brilliant time to re-start our Volunteer Interview Blog.

Painshill couldn’t run without volunteers. We have over 200 and they keep the landscape looking lovely, greet people on the ticket desk and work in the gift shop. They run guided tours, make repairs to the landscape features, host talks, take photographs and much more. Many have been with us for years and the staff are always hugely inspired by their dedication and passion. Thank you to them all for everything they do.

Would you like to get involved at Painshill? We welcome all ages and interests. Whether you want to stay active, improve your mental health, gain work experience or meet new people – we can find a role that works for you.

David Willcocks

What is your role at Painshill? 

I do a multitude of roles! I regularly do Landscaping on Monday’s with Andy and his team, but I also do buggy tours, walking tours, volunteer coordinating, what else…! Oh, Grotto stewarding. That’s it.

Just a small list then! How long have you been a volunteer?

Since 6th December 2017 – so 3 and ½ years now!

What role do you enjoy most?

Well I come from a farming background and when I was a student I used to work on a Forest Commission and on the farm, driving tractors and combines and those sort of things, so I was naturally attracted to Landscaping.

You get to work with a great bunch of people. A really nice team.

I am also interested in Wildlife generally so it gets me out to enjoy it. I also enjoy the Grotto Stewarding as people generally appreciate some information they wouldn’t normally get. Some people want to wiz through and get a selfie and others are really interested in the history. You get to speak with a variety of people – I‘m not exactly backward in coming forward to chat so the interaction with visitors is what I like.

What makes you come back to volunteer in the Landscape every week?

My wife would say it’s to get out of the house! I like being outside, I’m a very active person, I still play squash, so doing something physical is very important to me. I come back because A) I do get on really well with the team and the landscape guys and girls and we have a lunchtime all together outside – fresh air, the birds, all that good stuff! B) Its different from my previous working life – after 40 years working in London it’s a total contrast. It’s nice to be my own boss and have volunteer hours!

Do you have a favourite or most memorable task during your time at Painshill?

I did a buggy tour for an American gentleman who had been stationed here prior to D-Day during the war. He was on a big trip around Europe to revisit all the sites and he chose to come down to Painshill. He was quite elderly so I took him up to the Gothic Tower on the buggy and when we got back he gave me a $20 tip!

Wow what a result!

Yes that buggy tour stood out. Definitely memorable.

Why did you choose Painshill? 

Well I used to come here with the kids when they were little, and when I started working part time I started bringing them back and got to know the park. I wanted to drift into retirement slowly and wanted the chance to be unstructured. What appealed about Painshill is the flexibility. You don’t have to do the same shift on the same day each week.

I have also got to know a lot of people here and it becomes a big family in a funny sort of way. I hope I can keep going for many more years!

What would you say to anyone interested in becoming a volunteer?

Do it! Like many people I have other commitments and grandchildren etc. and you can’t always predict what you can do. This gives me the opportunity to come as much as I can, and at the same time not miss out on other parts of my life. That’s why I chose Painshill.

You come to know the park, get to know the people, you even get to know the swans and ducks like ‘Doris’!

What is your favourite spot at Painshill? 

Oooh gosh that’s difficult. The view from the Amphitheatre over the lake and the downs – absolutely gorgeous. My favourite tree is the Cork Tree. Not many people see it. It’s in the Amphitheatre near the statue.