Volunteers are the busiest folk I know

Warkworth Show: The top three in the children's fancy-dress competition. From left to right, Beren Jones, Poppy Rose Gourley and Isobelle Horne.
Warkworth Show: The top three in the children's fancy-dress competition. From left to right, Beren Jones, Poppy Rose Gourley and Isobelle Horne.
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If you want a job done, ask a busy person. This just about sums up every volunteer I’ve ever met. Especially in small communities, villages and towns.

Talk to any volunteer and you’ll discover they’re not only involved with one organisation, but several. Whether it’s the Millennium Green, Morpeth, or Bailiffgate Museum, Alnwick, the International Lions or National Trust, we’re all part of a fellowship that will respond to the call when help is required.

Gardening volunteers are a particularly happy bunch that I can easily identify with via the regional in-bloom organisation.

Whether it’s in a small or large bustling community, they’re all working in unison to improve their immediate environment.

Then occasionally it’s just an individual helping others simply because it gives pleasure.

Flower shows large and small, leek and onion exhibitions staged in hotels and pubs, are organised by the same breed. People who freely give their time for the benefit of the community.

Warkworth Show is typical of this, with a tradition dating back to 1859. Then, it was an important annual social event organised by a dedicated group of volunteers. Now, despite competition from a diversity of modern distractions, it continues to draw a good crowd for one day of the year. That the show continues to exist, nay thrive, is due solely to the undiminished community effort. Thank goodness for volunteers.

Top gardens throughout the country, especially those open to the public, need to be at their best for visitors. If there are organised tours to enrich the visit, on top of essential maintenance (weeding, planting, pruning, etc), it might just stretch a small gardening staff. Under such circumstances, volunteers are welcomed with open arms.

A long-standing volunteer at The Alnwick Garden, I love the varied experiences it brings.

Last week it was pricking out seedlings in one of the poly-tunnels alongside friend Peter who also serves at Cragside, this weekend it’s taking tours of the Poison Garden. Occasionally I’ll arrive, distinctive identification lanyard in place, and simply walk around the site and respond to visitors’ questions. All this is possible as long as I sign in and out at the office.