It just wouldn’t be Christmas in Shropshire without the National Trust decking its historic halls in fabulous festive style, hosting carols, Christmas fairs, festive craft workshops, and even Father Christmas himself.
Whether it’s garland making, mince pie baking, hanging thousands of fairy lights, or stepping into the pointed shoes of one of Father’s Christmas’ elves as he sees scores of eager children; it’s the National Trust’s volunteers who bring its places to life at Christmas time.
Once again, the Trust is thanking its teams of volunteers for helping create another year of wonderful festive experiences for visitors to enjoy at its places.
With over 30 National Trust properties across the Midlands opening over December, it takes thousands of people willing to give up their free time – and hundreds of hours of hard work – to transform these historic houses, create festive activities and bring a little bit of Christmas joy to every visitor.
From dressing 20-feet tall Christmas trees, to crafting delicate Christmas decorations; researching how Christmas was celebrated in the past, to shuttling visitors to and from Father Christmas’ grotto – volunteers are vital for every one of the National Trust’s open days of Christmas.
At Attingham Park near Shrewsbury, a team of volunteers has been helping prepare the site for its Christmas opening, which this year has a 1940s theme, with rooms decorated in 40s style, including music from the era, and visitors can learn about how Christmas was celebrated at Attingham during the Second World War.
Phil Royle is a National Trust volunteer from the region with a particularly special part to play at Christmas time – as a signing Father Christmas. Phil, who retired from teaching for 36 years, says: “The most wonderful part of this role is bringing the magic of Christmas to children and families and sharing the wonder of the season with them. We treat all our Christmas visitors as special and we give them the space and time to immerse themselves in the experience. It is a great privilege to be a part of a team which brings so much joy to our visitors both young and not so young!”
There are almost 1600 National Trust volunteers in Shropshire, out of a total of 11,500 National Trust volunteers in the Midlands who gifted over 965,000 hours of their time last year to keeping their local Trust places thriving.
Rachel Mora-Bannon, the National Trust’s Volunteering and Participation Consultant in the Midlands, says: “From getting in to Christmas character, creating dazzling decorations to welcoming our visitors; volunteers support every aspect of Christmas at our places. A huge amount of care and effort goes into getting our places ready for Christmas, as we try to reflect the history of each property through our Christmas preparations. We’re really grateful to our teams of tireless volunteers who help make this time of year so special, and memorable for everyone.”
Find out more about volunteering at your local National Trust place by visiting: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/volunteer