Volunteer views from Wakehurst
Read accounts from Kew's volunteers at Wakehurst. Find out more about their experience and how individual volunteers are helping to make a difference.
Having retired, like many of the volunteers at Wakehurst, I needed something challenging, interesting and different to occupy my spare time. It took me quite a while investigating volunteer work but as soon as I saw the advert for learning volunteers at Wakehurst I recognised it immediately as something in which I would be really interested. I felt it would keep me 'in touch' with the younger generation and stop me becoming an old fogey too soon.
Also the thought of 'opening the eyes' of youngsters to the natural world, conservation and the world around them was very appealing. I think all these and more happen at Wakehurst. I have met and made friends with so many like minded people there. I've also met and interacted with children of all ages and backgrounds, along with their teachers. These experiences enable me to learn so much and experience such a huge variety of activities, I regularly come away after a day there tired but utterly fulfilled.
The range of activities I get involved in is wide. Apart from the regular school visits, I have been involved with artwork in the Big Draw, science lab work and science fairs, (both my art and science teacher would never believe that!). I've also been a judge at the Crest Science Awards, spent time at the Ardingly showground with a project, been privileged to be taken round the Loder Valley Nature Reserve with the warden and witnessed a movie cast reading of Kenneth Branagh's 'As You Like It', which was filmed at Wakehurst. However, I missed out on the Antiques Roadshow as I was on holiday but who knows what other interesting times are still to come.
Variety is certainly part of a volunteer's life at Wakehurst.
Brian Goode (2008 - present)
I have now worked as a learning programme volunteer in the education department at Wakehurst for approximately 2 years. I had decided to make a change in my career and undertook a course in Countryside Management. To complete one of the modules, a work placement was required so I applied to work at Wakehurst and was accepted. After I completed the work placement, I asked to carry on as a volunteer as I had enjoyed it: being one of very few men helped!
Working with children was something I had not done before and I particularly like working with the younger ones. Their enthusiasm and eagerness to learn is something to behold, though moving the 4-6 year olds around the Garden can seem similar to herding cats! I have been particularly interested in watching how children with special needs react to the tasks they are set. When given individual attention the results are very encouraging.
A typical day starts with a briefing by the teacher in charge where volunteers get assigned their tasks. These tasks can be anything from helping a teacher in a classroom exercise to leading a group of children on a trail around the Gardens. Pond dipping is a favourite of mine where one of the prime tasks is to stop the children inadvertently falling into the pond!
I also enjoy trips to the Field Study Centre and forays into the Loder Valley Nature Reserve with the older children. The day ends by escorting them back to their coach, which for the younger ones means a well earned rest, and for us, a chance to relax with a cup of tea. Variety is the key and long may it continue!
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