When 2012 began I had no idea that I would be where I am now! I feel like I have grown up and experienced so much in this past year!
I headed back to uni early January to begin the second half of my final year, and crack on with my dissertation! I wrote my dissertation on the careful balance the heritage industry must strike between conservation and access, a topic of great interest to me, and one that has been discussed many times during my time here at Powis. This dissertation set me up with a good understanding of the interesting challenges the Trust and other companies face, and I have been building on that base of knowledge dramatically with practical experience, putting the theory into practice.
Although I was working hard I was also making the most of remaining time as a student, going out on regular socials with the Worcester Royals American Football Team (many involving fancy dress, as you do).
The end of March brought about my 21st birthday, something I was looking forward to and dreading all at once. 21 had always sounded so grown up and glamorous and I didn’t feel enough of either of those things to be reaching that milestone! However this side of 21 it doesn’t seem so scary, and I have learnt as long as you can be mature when needed, you have to grow old but you don’t have to grow up!
On April 27th I handed my dissertation in 😀 a week before the deadline! What a relief to have it off my hands and know I could do no more with it. I really enjoyed doing the research but , as of with anything of that importance, writing the final piece and getting it to a point I was happy and confident with was not the most relaxing of experiences, but the hard work and worry made it all the sweeter seeing it bound and handing it in.
I had my interview for the job here at Powis Castle on May 2nd, travelling to Welshpool on the train and having my first look at the castle. I was amazed by the property and the collections, I remember being particularly enamoured by the Pietre Dure table and the Clive Museum in general, a room that really makes an impression when you walk in! I loved the property and it only made me want the place even more! Luckily the didn’t keep me waiting long.
The next day was my dissertation deadline, and subsequently ‘dissy demo’, the celebration all student have after handing in, and all our hard work is over! And as I was getting ready to celebrate I got the much hoped for phone call, I had achieved a place at Powis Castle to spend a year learning all about working for the National Trust in one of the best collections in the country! At the end of May I got my last grades for my degree, it was all hanging on these final three to see where I would fall, a 2:1 or a 2:2, and I managed something I had not done up until that point at uni, I got an A! Not just one in fact but 2!! and that put me firmly in the 2:1 category! So pleased and proud! All in all May was a very good month, and I would be sad to leave Worcester, but very excited for the next chapter; Welshpool!
I moved to Wales on the 5th June and started work the next day. It was a huge change moving from Greyfriars to Powis Castle, National Trust properties on opposite ends of the spectrum in almost all respects, but I enjoyed the challenge! It has been great learning the ropes in a place with such a vast and varied collection, filling all the gaps in my knowledge when it comes to knowing how to clean different items of the collection. Within my first month I had already done so many different things! New experiences galore!
I had a crash (hopefully not actually!) course in building scaffold, something I am now highly practiced in! When I joined the House Team were mid-way through the annual store check which was amazing! Getting to see all the amazing items in the collection that are on display is one thing, but getting to see all the other objects held in the stores, I am a very lucky lass! The Clive Store was fascinating and the Textile Store appealed to my love off all thing sewn. Some of the items in the stores are so beautiful and I hope we can find more ways to display them, like we have done with the Winter Offer in the Ballroom.
Although I already knew unofficially, it was nice to get my official confirmation of my 2:1 in the middle of June. I am so proud of myself, I worked hard in my three years of uni, and as well as all the fun and brilliant experiences I came out of it with, I also got the grade I really wanted!
Something I had never thought I would enjoy as much as I have done is the interpretation side of the work here, a side not many House Teams have the time to take part in. I have been working on a few different projects, increasing the depth of information available in the Clive Museum, writing my objects of the month, and updating and rejuvenating the room folders, a hugs task but will help me in my goal to increase my knowledge about the property. I also took a significant part in organising the Magical Winter Offer that has been taking place at the Castle, our Fairy Tale Takeover, which has gone down really well! All the positive feedback fills me with pride and it is wonderful to see people enjoying the result of our hard work!
I have increased my understanding of pest management and environmental monitoring in Trust properties, through shadowing and questioning my ever patient colleagues and training courses. And after the pest management course I even got chance to implement an Integrated Pest Management scheme at another Trust property, Benthall Hall. I have loved getting the opportunity to visit new Trust properties, and to go behind the scenes! I don’t think I’ll ever be satisfied being a visitor without getting to go behind the rope again. Whilst I have been at Powis I have been lucky enough to visit Tredegar House, Benthall Hall, Penrhyn Castle, Erddig, and Chirk Castle, and I hope to visit many more!
I have met the Earl of Powis, stood on the roof of two castles, come within feet of stags and deer, been followed by beautiful peacocks, tried (and failed) to catch bats, visited Heelis (head office of the NT), met the new Director General, flew over the castle in a Hot Air Balloon, been responsible for bringing Powis Old Kitchens back to life, graduated in Worcester Cathedral, and met so many interesting people and I’m just over half way through my time here! I know I am so lucky to be here having these amazing experiences, and I am so proud of how far I have come in the last year. People often say they cannot believe I am working voluntarily for a year but I know I am working hard to achieve my dream job, and gaining so much back in return!! Here’s to hoping 2013 will be even better, and that all my hard work will pay off at the end of my time here at Powis! Best wishes to you all for 2013! I hope next year brings amazing things for us all!!