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Who are you and why do you like Upton House and Gardens?

My name is Jean and I am one of the very new volunteer recruits at Upton House. I joined Andy Aris and the Welcome Team in early February and I love it. I love the freedom, the flexibility and yes it may sound corny but I just love trying to add value to the visitor experience.


What is your role here?                                                                      

I feel my role is ‘anything and everything’ to ensure the visitor has the best possible day at Upton leaving them refreshed, informed, entertained and wanting to come back for more. The role of Welcome Host is a new one and has involved me chatting to early morning arrivals in the car park – telling them a little about the house and giving them a map (I always keep a couple of spare copies in my bag), getting the buggy ready for early arrivals, scanning in visitors and finding out if they have a particular interest and perhaps giving them a brief overview of what Upton can offer.

Jean talking to visitors on a busy bank holiday Monday

Jean talking to visitors on a busy bank holiday Monday

During the course of the day I will chat to people around the house and in the gardens to make sure they are getting the most from their day, talking sometimes to people who are on their own because family have perhaps gone off on a walk, looking after a lost child, sourcing information for visitors (after just a couple of months I appreciate how much I have to learn!) or perhaps helping out on the front door if they are particularly busy. I also try to make sure all the benches are dry for when visitors arrive and that there is no rubbish around.What have you particularly enjoyed?

I love feeling part of a team of staff and volunteers who are all totally committed to visitor care. We are so proud of Upton and its very rewarding when visitors make comments such as ‘it’s one of the friendliest NT places we’ve visited; what a great place for children; aren’t the room guides superb’. I particularly enjoyed the induction at Upton which was very professional and although I have masses to learn I can’t believe how much I have picked up already and how helpful staff and volunteers have been by letting me shadow them and even emailing information when I’ve expressed an interest.   The recent introduction volunteers were given to the new Fortune and Philanthropy theme was excellent and a wonderful opportunity to meet other volunteers.

I’ve also particularly enjoyed Ann’s delicious cakes which she brings in for the Monday volunteers!

I can honestly say I LOVE MONDAYS!

What are you next looking forward to?

Gaining more knowledge about the house and the gardens, being able to walk back up from the mirror pool without wheezing and perhaps being able to support Andy when there are new additions to the team. At some stage I would love to help with events and concerts but for now I just want to be an asset to the Welcome Team and if I can achieve that then I’ll be very happy.


The tranquility of our Mirror Pool at the bottom of the garden

The tranquility of our Mirror Pool at the bottom of the garden