WWW.NTS.ORG.UK23?as a guide and became a full-time collections careassistant at Haddo for about a year. From visitingthese places as a child it was so interesting to be onthe other side of the fence and to experience howthey are managed."Kris is on a well-structured programme of courses,workshops and property visits. At Pollok House, forinstance, he has seen how volunteers are integral tothe property's unusual Christmas events featuringMrs Claus. "They have shaped it over many yearsand I guess there's a certain sense of ownership. It'sbrilliant to see how effective it is, with hundreds ofchildren coming through the doors."The Trust is "extremely good" at developingvolunteers' skills, something Kris attributes to thehigh proportion of former volunteers among staff."There's a real ethos of giving something back, andmentoring, in the organisation.""There's a realethos of givingsomethingback"
24SPRING 2012PEOPLE?So far he has learned about procedures, protocolsand recruitment within the Trust itself but also thewider volunteering picture in Scotland, throughgroups such as Heritage Volunteer OrganisersScotland. He is also taking a vocational qualificationthrough Volunteer Development Scotland."From the start you have to set out clearly the sortof benefits volunteers will get, and also bring, sothat you have a well defined relationship. There arelots of speculative applications from all over,including France and Germany and elsewhere,which is fantastic. By the end of the year I wouldhope to progress into a position where I can applyall the skills I've learned in the Trust."LOUISE HAYThreave EstateLouise Hay's interest in gardening started when sheworked as a volunteer at Trelissick, a National Trustproperty in Cornwall. "I fell in love with it," says the27-year-old, who is one of six residential students onthe heritage gardening course at Threave. The School of Heritage Gardening there dates backmore than 50 years and is constantly evolving.Distinguished former students include Don Murray,head of horticulture at the Eden Project.Arriving for her interview in Galloway last spring,Louise was bowled over by the beauty of the gardensand, several months later, is no less impressed by thequality of instruction. The course is highly regarded for its emphasis onpractical training, an approach that SinclairWilliamson, gardens adviser at the Trust's Centre forExcellence in Heritage Horticulture, says isincreasingly rare in horticultural studies these days. However, there are academic assignments atThreave too, exploring issues such as how tomaintain the balance between the historical side of agarden and keeping it visitor friendly. This hasmeant trips to Kellie, Balcaskie and Culzean."It's very diverse work - and team work," Louisesays. "The students spend a lot of time working andliving together and we get on really well. We keep adiary to record what work we've done and anythingnew we've learned." The practical aspects range from propagation tomachine operation and maintenance; pruning fruittrees and cultivating vegetables in the walled gardento improving and maintaining soil structure. "The enthusiasm ofthe instructors is wonderful""We do regular plant identification tests and wewrite plant profiles every fortnight, going in depthinto one particular plant. We also study a plantfamily and write an assignment about it. Theenthusiasm of the instructors is wonderful."A philosophy graduate from ManchesterMetropolitan University, Louise worked briefly inhospitality. "That was just a job but this issomething I really want to make a career of. By theend of the course in August I hope to have chosenwhich direction to take my horticultural career butat the moment I want to learn about all aspects ofworking in a Trust garden." lTo find out more about the course at Threave, and howto apply, go to www.nts.org.uk/NewsStory/1669/