Who are you and why do you like Upton House and Gardens?
My name is Judy and I am now in my 16th year. When I first came things were very different and opening was 2.00pm to 6.00pm. I thought I would just do a few weeks to see if it was for me. I didn’t know a lot about the House even though I only live 12 miles away. Well needless to say I was hooked and the magic of the House and Gardens wove its spell and I have to say it was one the best things I embarked on. I have come to love the House & Gardens and so look forward to my volunteering days.
What is your role here?
I am a Room Guide and do 2 days a week and often do a stint on the Front Door. It is very much like an extended family and I have made many lovely friends. I am not a shy person so it is great to be able to practice my people skills. I love talking to visitors and being able to tell the stories about the family and the art and porcelain. Seeing how the visitors react and their obvious enjoyment is a very special experience.
I am also on the Social Committee and organise the trips and some of the coffee mornings. It is great to be able to take fellow volunteers from the house, gardens, shop and restaurant to other properties, not only National Trust but galleries, museums and gardens. We do not get the time to socialise when we are room guiding so it is a delightful way to meet and catch up on all the gossip.
The coffee mornings too have all been well attended and the Summer party this year when I organised a group called Fiddle Bop who played music which captured the spirit of the House was just so enjoyable. I love organising and am always glad when I receive nice comments! I feel that it is important that we mingle and get to know each other and this is a very nice way do so. My favorite trip has to be in May when we went to Polesden Lacey when I stood in front of a painting by my great great grandfather, Samuel Bough entitled Port of London. He was a friend of Sir Walter Scott and married a well known opera singer so my love of art is in the blood as they say.
What have you particularly enjoyed?
I have enjoyed all of the various themes over the years. The Millionaires House Party weekends, dressing up and in the past have also taken part in the Murder Mystery weekends. I have been Santa’s helper which is thoroughly enjoyable as the children are so expectant and a joy. I bring my goddaughters eldest daughter Alexia who is 9 to the House and she is shaping up to be a future volunteer. It is such a privilege to be able to just stand in front of so many wonderful and special works of art and to be able to hopefully convey my enthusiasm and enjoyment to visitors, and it is very rewarding.
What are you next looking forward to?
I am now on the Volunteering Project Group in readiness for the Country House Bank next year. Our brief is to ensure that the Visitor Experience is met, to decide on the moods of the rooms involved. Also to decide on a new form of volunteering in order to make all of the things happen throughout the House. It is very exciting to be a part of this and to able to in just a small way contribute to a remarkable story of some very remarkable people. As you can tell I am so excited by this, my fellow team members are of the same mind and it really is going to be very special with innovative experiences for everyone.
I am also looking forward to the festive season when the House is decorated and looking amazing. You will probably find me being a helper to Santa again as well as room guiding. I would recommend being a National Trust volunteer and I never thought that when I first came in April 1999 that I would still be enjoying it.