Volunteers offer their services for a huge variety of reasons – to complement study, for work experience or to start the process of getting back into employment after not working for some years, perhaps after bringing up a family.

Sally Dingle, 44, from St Austell, took the opportunity of volunteering whilst studying for an RHS Level 2 qualification. She thought it would help with her studies as well as giving her confidence and contacts for starting her own business.

“I thought volunteering at Trewithen would help me with my course and extend my knowledge, but it turned into so much more,” she said. “I intended staying for a few months but, because I loved every minute of it, I was there for two years before setting up my own gardening business. I’m extremely busy now but I really miss the work and the people at Trewithen – I feel very privileged to have been part of the team and I definitely learnt a lot.”

Inez Williams, 17, from Mount Hawke, needed to complete 90 hours volunteer work as part of her Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award. She’s currently studying A-level Medieval History, Environmental Studies and Fine Art at Truro College. She saw Trewithen’s website and was attracted by the beauty of the garden as well as the estate’s history.

Inez said: “I approached Gary Long, Trewithen’s Head Gardener, and he invited me to visit. That was 18 months ago and since then I’ve spent every Friday during holidays at the garden. I’ve lost count of the hours I’ve done – it’s far more than I needed to do for the award, but I enjoy it so much.

“Gary is really good because he makes sure we learn as we work. I enjoy the atmosphere, it’s great for my CV and, if I want to carry on gardening, I have a great connection through Gary. I also sometimes go to Trewithen when I’m not working to paint in the garden. It’s so beautiful.”

Lise Olesen, 40, from St Austell, volunteered her services in April. She used to work in an office before stopping to bring up her two children.

Lise said: “I hadn’t held a job for years and although I’m trained in office work I wanted to try something different. I’m a keen gardener at home and thought volunteering at Trewithen would help me build up a CV as well as getting me back into the work routine without the pressure and responsibility of a paid job.

“I love it. I enjoy being outside, it’s a lovely change from housework and the garden itself is just such a peaceful place.”

At the moment there are seven volunteers helping out Gary and his assistant, Neil Trebilcock.

Gary said: “Our army of volunteers is invaluable, we simply couldn’t manage without them. They help with the weeding, clearing, dead-heading and general maintenance working as much or as little as they feel able. We provide travel expenses, lunch, a Trewithen T-shirt, experience, knowledge and, hopefully, enjoyment. We’re always extremely grateful for the help.”

Anyone interested in volunteering should contact Gary via the Trewithen Estate Office on 01726 883647 or email him at info@trewithengardens.co.uk.

Press Clippings:

Cornwall Today feature, January 2011