As I referred to in a recent blog on holiday cottages, The National Trust are lucky to benefit from the extensive knowledge and support of our volunteers. The following offers Tom’s thoughts on being a National Trust volunteer -
Name: Tom Eagle
Role Title: Environmental Practices Assistant
Overview of Role:
There are two main tasks at the moment:
- Carrying out environmental reviews at the Trust’s holiday cottages in Wales
- Working on a solar generator, to be used at the Royal Welsh Show
How did you find out about the role?
I was using twitter and following the NT Wales feed and saw the Environmental Practices Advisors blog around work on hydro projects. I got in touch to see if there were ways I could get involved, and met them on site in Powis. There isn’t a formal role description, but Keith, Paul and I worked together to determine the tasks that would be suitable.
How did you come to be involved in this kind of work?
My background is in engineering. I have a Mechanical Engineering degree and experience of landscaping work and interior renovations, and I have my own company. I was finding out more about renewable energy and thought that this kind of work would be interesting, so wanted to get more experience.
What is involved?
The first part of the environmental review is a visit to the cottage. I take an initial look around, investigating loft spaces and cupboards, note the type of heating used (e.g. oil / storage heater), and water supplies. I measure the floor space, windows and window types. I can then do a calculation of kilowatt hours / m2
I do a floor plan sketch with all this information as a record and add the information to a league table so it can be compared with other cottages.
This information will support recommendations to reduce, for example, energy use, from changing heating timers / providing better insulation to longer term action.
How much time does the role take?
Each review takes about 2 – 2.5 hours plus travel, and so far I have carried out 21 reviews. This is almost half of all the holiday cottages inWales.
What’s interesting and enjoyable about the role?
I get to visit amazing places; each building is different and has real character. I’m also learning about different building services – one cottage has a private water supply from a borehole, which has a complex pumping system, and there are lots of different types of equipment and circuitry.
Do you have any tips for other regions looking to develop a similar role?
It’s important to try to match what the trust needs with what the volunteer wants to get from the experience. Because the role involves lots of travel and working alone, it’s important to keep communications open, and find time for the volunteer and manager to meet.
Anything else you’d like to say?
Just the fact that the trust is doing more through social networking means that it will be easier to engage younger audiences. I’m really glad to have done it – it’s made me realise that there is potential in renewable energy, lots of people are pushing for this, and there’s a future in this kind of work.
My blog has more info: http://renewingmycareer.wordpress.com/
Paul Southall, Environmental Practices Advisor and Tom’s manager says:
We know that volunteers have great depth of knowledge – all we have to do is listen. Tom has relevant practical skills and knowledge and his work is systematically providing a baseline of information about our largest and most diverse portfolio. This will support making improvements to what are thought of as hard-to-treat buildings, and will lead to solid, pragmatic and sensible advice which everyone who has a house can follow.
If you are interested in volunteering for The National Trust please contact Larisa.Roberts@nationaltrust.org.uk for more information.