Posts Tagged ‘Dudmaston’

This year we find the group celebrating it’s 35th Birthday. We will celebrate with a huge bonfire party later this year. It’s great to hear that the group continues to contribute a significant number of volunteer hours to the National Trust. Our volunteer hours and stats for the year September 2014 to August 2015 were announced on Saturday, during our AGM. The results are always impressive – lots of hard work translates into a huge number of volunteer hours for the National Trust.

Figures are from 1st Sept 2014 to 31st Aug 2015:

  • total volunteer hours 3,027.25
  • 60 people volunteered with the group
  • we arranged 62 workdays at 13 different National Trust properties
  • average number of volunteers per workday  8

Where did we spend our time? The top 3 sites measured by hours worked are as follows:

  • Dudmaston (gardens and woodland)
  • Wenlock Edge
  • Benthall Hall

Matt Hinton topped the hours chart again this year with 309.75hours. Well done Matt.

A big thank you to all who contributed volunteer hours and to those who do committee work and workday leading, ensuring that the group continues to flourish.


If you’d like to add a few volunteer hours to next year’s total, why not join us for a workday? Our current list of workdays can be found on our EVENTS page. Pick a day and CONTACT US. Let’s make the coming year a bigger and better success.


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Ron Murdoch led a varied workday at Dudmaston last weekend. He sends this report:

The Group were at Dudmaston on 5th October, but not for the usual cut and burn ….. this time there was a choice of jobs. One team did reed pulling in the main pool – to see how much could be achieved in an hour to assess how long the full job would take. Then there were two huge heaps of brash to be burned – one ‘lady-like’ controlled fire and one ‘pile it on as fast as you can’ fire. Finally, we did some rockery clearance revealing part of the rock structure which has been hidden for so long.

Nb the Group may be involved in further work on the redevelopment of the rockery during the winter.


Dudmaston - brash clearance. before, after and burnt!

Dudmaston – brash clearance. before, after and burnt! (photos: Ron Murdoch)


We also received a message of thanks from Marcus Halliwell, National Trust general manager:

“I walked across the Garden at Dudmaston yesterday and noticed the great progress on the Rockery. Thank you for your hard work, it is really fantastic to see this structure revealed for the first time in years- What an exciting project!”


Dudmston rockery uncovered (photos: Mags Carter)

Dudmston rockery uncovered (photos: Mags Carter)




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Drum roll please….

Our volunteer hours and stats for the year September 2013 to August 2014 were announced on Saturday, during our AGM. The results are always impressive – lots of hard work translates into a huge number of volunteer hours for the National Trust.

Figures are from 1st Sept 2013 to 31st Aug 2014:

  • total volunteer hours 3,068.75
  • 73 people volunteered with the group
  • we arranged 66  workdays at 15 different National Trust properties
  • average number of volunteers per workday  9

Where did we spend our time? The top 3 sites measured by hours worked are as follows:

  • Dudmaston (gardens and woodland)
  • Wenlock Edge
  • Morville Hall

Matt Hinton topped the hours chart again this year with 310.75hours. He isn’t a man, he’s a machine! A volunteering machine! Well done Matt.

We also have a “top 100”. This lists the total hours volunteered by the top 100 group members since the group began in 1980. Just for fun, have a guess at how many hours the group have worked in total (answer at the end of this post).

Congratulations to our volunteers who earned National Trust Long Service Awards during this past year.

20 year award – Peter Orme
15 year award –Helen Payne, Ann Dalgleish
10 year award – Tom Freeland, Jen Davison, Laura Harrison, Sheila Smallwood, Rachel Freeland, Neil Semple
5 year award – Gill Amias, Ben Nash, Jackie Semple, Avril Simpson

They will receive their awards at a special event later this year.

A big thank you to all who contributed volunteer hours and to those who do committee work and workday leading, ensuring that the group continues to flourish.


If you’d like to add a few volunteer hours to next year’s total, why not join us for a workday? Our current list of workdays can be found on our EVENTS page. Pick a day and CONTACT US. Let’s make the coming year a bigger and better success.


(answer: 58,638 hours – wow!)

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It’s “Look how awesome we are” time again. Our volunteer hours and stats have recently been published. The results are always impressive – lots of hard working volunteer hours for the National Trust.

Figures are from 1st Sept 2012 to 31st Aug 2013:

  • total volunteer hours for the group – 3,465.25
  • 66 people volunteered with the group
  • there were 71  workdays at 16 different National Trust sites

Where did we spend our time? The top 3 sites measured by hours worked are as follows:

  • Dudmaston
  • Benthall Hall
  • Wenlock Edge
Matt Hinton topped the hours chart again this year with 379.25hours (plus his mum sends us cake – yay Matt’s mum!).

We are also very proud of our volunteers who earned National Trust Long Service Awards this past year.

20 year award – Ann Brookman, Andrew Dalgleish, Dave Maeer, Jane Maeer
15 year award – Christine Brown, Ron Murdoch
10 year award – Lucy Cole
5 year award – Peter Elliot, Jon Hazlewood, Matt Hinton, Zac Harvey, John Upton,Gordon Whittaker, Lisa Whittaker

Well done all.

A big thank you to all who contributed volunteer hours and to those who do the admin and workday leading, ensuring that the group is a continued success.

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hello….are you there? We’ve been Missing In Action for a couple of months. Sorry. Lazy. Been busy cutting things, burning things and eating cake (what else would would we be doing?!).

What’s been going on with SSNTV?

We’ve had 16 workdays since the last web update. We headed north to Biddulph Grange and south to The Weir, visited old favourites (Morville and Dudmaston) and found our way to a new property (Benthall Hall).

Benthall is a real joy and the work is ideal for our group. Our first project is helping clear an overgrown path which stretches from the Benthall estate, downhill towards Ironbridge and the River Severn. In the near future, it is hoped that the restored path will be designated as a bridleway.

As we now approach the end of October, SSNTV look forward to a busy autumn and winter programme. You can find details of all our workdays on the EVENTS page.

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July has been a busy month for SSNTV. We’ve partied and worked and met royalty….read on.

We started the month trying something new. It was the annual Garden Fete at Sunnycroft on Sunday 1st July, and help was needed…but we didn’t know what we’d be doing.

Fun and games at Sunnycroft

The Fete was a huge success and we put down our usual bowsaws and loppers in order to help out with various tasks including ticketing and running the Coconut Shy – who said we weren’t versatile?! We took the opportunity to munch a few cakes and have some fun too.

You might not have noticed a certain sporting event happening in the UK this year. Forget London 2012 Olympics, I’m talking about the lesser known (but no less spectacular) Jubilympics. This event was held by SSNTV on Saturday 7th July, the venue was Albrighton (Ed’s note: where else could it be?). This ‘Once In a Lifetime’ event surpassed all expectation. An ‘elite’ group of Jubilympians competed under the national flags of Kiribati, Nuara, Vanuatu and the Federated States of Micronesia (if you don’t know where these great sporting nations are, what do you think Google is for??). After a *cough* lengthy torch relay (down the garden and back), the Jubilympic flame was lit. Fierce competition ensued in such sports as the marathon, the pentathlon and the javelin. These were sports with a twist, the relay race may have involved straws and dried peas….

Judging of The Marathon

Lighting the Jubilympic flame

No rest for the athletes (Ed’s note: no recovery from their hangovers more like). Sunday 8th July was another first for SSNTV. We were helping out at the Wenlock Edge Half Marathon and Full Marathon. Organised by the National Trust as part of the the Much Wenlock Olympics, this off-road race was routed from Craven Arms to Much Wenlock via Wilderhope Manor. Fortunately we didn’t have to run, but we did have to leave our bowsaws at home again as we were marshalling the marathon route. The weeks building up to this event saw more than their fair share of rain so the ground was muddy and the weather forecast for the day was ‘more rain’. In fact it turned out to be a gloriously sunny day, but we hear that the ground was still muddy underfoot. The efforts of the runners was truly inspirational with phenomenal performances despite the tough conditions. Read more about the event here.

Much Wenlock Marathon medal

During the year we organise a number of working weekends. We often use the National Trust Mose Basecamp, on the Dudmaston estate, as accommodation. On Sunday 15th July we spent the day there giving the property and gardens a very late spring clean. We were rewarded for our efforts with a barbecue, supplied and cooked for us by Richard who works for the National Trust at Dudmaston. The Mose Basecamp and Cottage are available for hire, for groups and families – more details here.

Some of our group escape the Shropshire and Staffordshire boundary once a year. This years working holiday took place from Saturday 21st to Saturday 28th July. They head north to Northumberland, Cragside to be exact, where they work their little socks off all week with no time for fun. Or so I thought. It turns out that there is quite a lot of work done but there is also a bit of R&R in the form of trips to the seaside and the occasional pub or 3. They were in for a big surprise this year as their visit to the pub coincided with a visit to the same pub by HRH Prince Charles. Prince Charles is the President of the National Trust and he was interested to hear about the work of the group. He said he was “proud to be President”. Apparently the pub had brewed a special ale in honour of the visit – that is, the visit of Prince Charles, not the visit by SSNTV! The working holiday was enjoyed by all and they raced back down to Shropshire in time for the last workday of the month at Wightwick Manor.

HRH Prince Charles, President of the National Trust

While some of the group headed north, those left at home were making the most of a week of glorious sunshine. Neil led a workday by the lakeside at Dudmaston on Sunday 22nd July. The work involved path clearance and creating a drain across the path, fuelled by lemon polenta cake and whittington buttons (?).

Unconventional use of a National Trust wheelbarrow

The final workday of the month was at Wightwick Manor & Gardens on Sunday 29th July (read the story here). It was a fun day with plenty of hard work and ice cream!

Driveway after

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SSNTV web-writers have been a bit lazy during the last couple of months. The New Year’s Resolution (WILL update website at least once a month) has failed. We are sure that going-out-and-doing-stuff is a good excuse for failing to stay-indoors-and-write-webcopy. Are we forgiven? Good.

So, a month late (groan), there follows an update on our May 2012 activities and right on time (yay!) there is info on our June 2012 exploits.

May 2012

Dudmaston worksite – May 6th and 13th

The first two weekends of the month (6th and 13th May) saw the group return to Dudmaston, a favourite location. If you visit this NT property, it is worth knowing that the estate is far more than just a house and gardens – miles of paths are open all year round in the extensive woodlands. It is in the woods that SSNTV do the majority of their work. It’s hard to believe now (at the end of a particularly damp June) that we had two beautiful days of sunshine. Our May workdays involved tree felling and timber stacking. The wood will be used in the production of charcoal, which takes place at another location on the Dudmaston estate.

Timber stacked ready for transport to the charcoal production site

SSNTV at Dudmaston

Carding Mill Valley was the location for the workday on 20th May, helping to cut a firebreak through gorse, followed on 27th May with a visit to Whitgreaves Wood near Moseley Old Hall where fence repair was on the agenda.

June 2012

While sensible people were enjoying the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee weekend eating cake, SSNTV celebrated by….what else but eating cake! Unfortunately the workday on 3rd June at Downs Banks was a bit wet and cold but spirits were raised by cake eating in great quantities.

Back to Dudmaston on 10th June. NT Ranger Mike Annis cleverly described the first task as ‘weeding the reed beds’, waiting until we were on site before revealing that the reed beds in question were part of the reed bed filtration system which deals with ‘liquid matter’ from the site toilets. It isn’t as gruesome as it sounds – by the time the water filters through the system we are told that it is almost up to drinking water standards…not that anyone wanted to test the theory! After lunch, we moved work to the Dingle to clear and burn brash from the paths.

Despite the rain, there was an excellent turn out on Saturday 16th June for a visit to Benthall Hall to walk around a potential new worksite with Benthall Gardener Nick Swankie and NT Ranger Peter Carty. The bridleway has become overgrown and SSNTV are planning to return for a series of workdays later in the year to open up the path. One of the benefits of a guided walk with local experts is that they point out plants and flowers that you would ordinarily walk straight past without noticing. Today’s highlights included the Bird’s Nest Orchid – rare in this area, but more common in the south of England.

Dudmaston was the location for a further workday on 17th June. This time, we were working around the gardens, whereas we normally skulk around the woods. Half of the group helped clear mossy overgrowth from the courtyard cobbles while the other half of the group helped prepare a section of garden boundary for installation of a rabbit proof fence.

To round off our June workdays, we visited Wilderhope Manor to help burn brash left over from hedge laying that took place during last winter. This clear-up helped get the site ready for the Wenlock Edge Marathon and Half Marathon, to be run on 8th July. Despite a month of rain, the sun shone for our work. At the end of the day, we were grateful for tea and biscuits provided by the staff at the Manor, which is now run as a Youth Hostel.

Making the most of the sunshine

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“In which we change our name and enjoy a party or two”


We kicked off the month with our annual Summer Social. Sausages were sizzled, beer drunk, cake consumed. Time to relax.

July is also the time for our working holiday week to Cragside, Northumberland. Volunteers enjoyed a varied programme of work including rhodi bashing and rediscovering overgrown paths.

In between, SSNTV organised workdays at Morville, Dudmaston and Long Mynd. It wasn’t all work, especially when the Long Mynd group discovered a swing to play on.


The big news this month was the change of name for the group. We are now Shropshire and Staffordshire National Trust Volunteers, formerly the Wolverhampton National Trust Conservation Volunteers. Read more about the name change here.

New name, same enthusiasm for hard work (and cake!). Thankfully lots of workdays in August to keep us busy – a sunny visit to Morville, garden work at Moseley Old Hall and a Bank Holiday double at Dudmaston.


Our group year ends in August. Time for the AGM and this year, a new Chairman. Our retiring Chairman served in post for 8 years, overseeing an enormous growth in the amount of work we do for the National Trust. Thanks Matthew for all your hard work.

It is down to the continued work of the Chairman and committee members that the group continues to grow from strength to strength – many thank to all of them, past and present.

The end of the group year also sees publication of our volunteer statistics – facts and figures about how many hours we worked and where. This past year has been the best so far, so we have a lot to be proud of. Read all about it here.

We found time in September to cut the hedges (some large, some small) at Sunnycroft, some Rhodi clearance at Toothill Woods, apple picking at Attingham Park and a return to Walcot Woods to undertake some woodland work.

Ron celebrated his 70th birthday with a Birthday Bash and Barn Dance. Once more, SSNTV members kicked of their workboots and let their hair down for some partying. Ron is our oldest volunteer but he puts the younger members to shame with his boundless energy and enthusiasm.


Another working weekend, this time at Wenlock Edge. Accommodation at Big Mose Cottage for those who needed it. Some volunteers stayed for the entire three days, others came for one or two days.

October saw a welcome return to The Weir in Hereford with the volunteers cutting down buddleia and rosemary willow in splendid autumn sun. Other workdays included rhodi bashing at Attingham, undergrowth clearance at Whitgreaves Wood and an autumn visit to Morville Hall.


November brings along the annual Bonfire Weekend. Located at Dudmaston, we had 3 workdays and a bonfire/fireworks party in the woods.

The hedgelaying season started again at Attingham Park and we had two rhododendron workdays – at Toothill and Attingham.

The volunteer group was originally formed at Wightwick Manor. In November we spent a day there planting bulbs – these will look splendid in the spring as they brighten up the grassy banks.


December last year saw the countryside blanketed in snow and ice. We had to cancel workdays due to the poor weather and ice on the roads. Not so this year and we completed 5 workdays before Christmas.

Our Annual Christmas Weekend took place at Dudmaston – two workdays and a Christmas party. It’s a DIY affair as the volunteers muck in at Big Mose Basecamp to prepare the food and provide entertainment.

The other pre-Christmas workdays took place at Attingham (hedgelaying) and Wenlock Edge (scrub clearance on limestone grassland).

And so we come to the end of the year. Last year we had a successful workday between Christmas and New Year. We excelled ourselves this year by organising three workdays – one at Walcot Woods and two at Dudmaston. All involved woodland work and very necessary bonfires to keep us warm as we worked.

All that is left to say is to wish you a very happy and healthy New Year. SSNTV look forward to 2012 – we already have plans to work harder and eat  more cake!

Ed’s note: if you fancy joining us for a workday in 2012, check out our EVENTS page and CONTACT US (by email or fill out the contact form)

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“In which we abolish Bank Holidays in favour of Bank Workdays”

The last 12 months have passed by in a flash. Time here at SSNTV web-towers for a bit of trip down memory lane.


The group were up and running early in 2011 with our first workday outing to Dudmaston on January 2nd. We continued a project that was to run over a number of months, clearing rhododendron from the woodland. January also saw us starting work at a new site – Whitgreaves Wood near Moseley Old Hall. This woodland had recently been acquired by the National Trust and our first visit to site involved general tidying and removal of broken fencing, in preparation for further work later in the year.

We always enjoy a visit to Morville Hall and our first visit of the year took place at the end of the month. There is always a good turnout for our visits to Morville and there is never a shortage of work to be done….and never a shortage of delicious tea and cake at the end of the workday. Hedgelaying continued apace at the Attingham Estate – this January also saw visits to Shugborough Estate and Toothill Woods, so you can see that we really do get around to all corners of Shropshire and Staffordshire.


The group really had something to celebrate at Dudmaston on the first Sunday of the month. Group member John Wells reached his 3000th volunteer hour with the group. The day was spent planting 1000 trees, a fitting way to commemorate such a huge achievement. (Ed’s note – by the end of 2011, there were a number of other landmark achievements for our volunteers including Ron Murdoch reaching his 2500th hour and Matt Hinton passing the 1000 hour mark)

Our second outing of the month saw a hardy group of volunteers braving the miserable weather  at Toothill Woods in north staffordshire, continuing work to remove rhododendron from the site.

Other workdays in February included another visit to Dudmaston, our first visit of the year to Wenlock Edge and another hedgelaying session at Attingham.


Walcot Woods, in South Shropshire, hosted our first working holiday of the year. Three days of fine weather allowed a great deal of progress to be made on the continued woodland management project at this site. Read all about the weekend here.

Not content with a full three days of work on the first weekend of the month, the following weekend found group members on their final hedgelaying trip of the season to Attingham on Saturday, followed by a workday at Wenlock Edge on Sunday and for those needing a little bit of extra work, there was gardening to be done with the volunteers at Moor Pool in Birmingham. Busy busy!

With spring just around the corner, a visit to the walled garden at Attingham was in order, helping National Trust staff to get the ground ready for planting. The final weekend in March continued the garden theme as we spent the day at Sunnycroft, helping wake the garden up following its winter sleep and some vigorous compost digging.


The first outing of the month was a social one. Dave Maeer organised a walk up Cadair Idris. He managed to ruin his reputation as this time there was good weather and the group didn’t get lost!

Carrying on from Sunnycroft, composting kept us busy in the walled garden at Attingham on the first Sunday in the month.

Six weeks after our last visit and spring had very much sprung at Walcot Woods. A carpet of wild flowers and a warm sunny day greeted us for a day in the woods.

Looking back, it seems that April was full of sunshine and our second visit of the year to Morville Hall was no exception.

Bank Holidays are usually when the group put down their tools for some rest and relaxation.  Some of our crazy group members decided that the opportunity for some extra work was too good to miss, so the tools didn’t get their usual rest this year. The Easter Weekend was fine and sunny (Ed’s note – hard to remember as I sit here wearing three warm layers of clothes on Dec 30th) and those who needed to burn off the calories from eating too many Easter Eggs found themselves at Wenlock Edge for Easter Weekend#1. Not enough work on the one day? That’s ok, as there was more work at Dudmaston on Easter Monday at Dudmaston for Easter Weekend#2.

There was an extra bank holiday this year, courtesy of a certain Royal Wedding. No chance of getting a day off as the Bank Holiday Workdays continued with work at Wenlock Edge which included some sheep herding (!?).


What was the plan for May? Oh yes, I remember, don’t relax, get out there on May 1st and get some more work done. Might as well start the month off as we mean to go on…

May 1st was a bank holiday monday. Having re-written the rules concerning holidays (i.e. they are not for relaxing, they are for working hard and eating cake), there was a good turnout at Dudmaston, working alongside the pools, cutting and burning the odd rhododendron or two.

Continuing our plan for world domination, Saturday 7th May saw us extending our ‘Empire’ to Hereford for a workday at The Weir Garden. The sunny weather eluded us but a great day was had by all who attended and it was enjoyable working at a new site. The thought of a pint and some food at the local pub afterwards kept everyone working despite the weather.

Looking back, it seems that May was a particularly busy month. With all of those Bank Holidays Workdays, there were seven workdays during the month. Along with those already mentioned, there was a second trip to Whitgreaves wood (fencing repairs), scrub clearance at Sunnycroft and helping out at the Plant & Garden Fair at Attingham.

The Spring Bank *cough* Holiday Weekend allowed a double dose of rhododendron clearance at Dudmaston on the Saturday and Sunday. We were allowed (!) a day off on the Monday. Some of the group took the opportunity to visit Walcot Hall Estate, of which Walcot Woods were once a part.

Joking aside, the bank holiday workdays have been a resounding success. As all of our members pick and choose when they do or don’t want to attend, organising workdays during the bank holidays has allowed more choice.


What happened to the sunshine? June saw its fair share of rain. Fortunately, the first workday of the month was mostly indoors – building birdboxes at Wenlock Edge. There was more rain at Attingham the following weekend for work in the walled garden. However, volunteers weren’t put off by the bad weather.

One event that wasn’t weather dependent was the 60th birthday party for group member Sheila. Group members young and old exchanged work boots for dancing shoes – a night to relax and enjoy. Sheila’s wasn’t the only celebration this year. There were 30th, 40th, 50th, 60th and 70th birthday celebrations for group members, not to forget two weddings for group members Gordon & Lisa and Ian & Jen (Ed’s note: it’s just as well that the group like cake!).

Attacking an overgrowth of dogwood was the challenge at Shugborough on 19th June. The month was completed by another visit to Attingham.

(Ed’s note: if you’ve survived this review of 2011 so far, well done…I never did get the hang of ‘editing’. Go and get yourself a cup of tea before you read the 2nd half)

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Christmas 2011

The Shropshire and Staffordshire National Trust Volunteers have downed tools this weekend. After all, it is Christmas. I have a feeling that many of them will be swapping bowsaws for carving knives….

It has been a busy December for the group. There has been hedgelaying at Attingham, scrub clearance (and accompanying massive bonfire) at Wenlock Edge and we had our annual Christmas weekend at Dudmaston with two full workdays in the woodland and a lovely Christmas dinner together at Big Mose Basecamp.

This time last year we were knee deep in snow. We even had to cancel a couple of workdays due to the wintery weather. Not so this year. The weather has been weirdly mild. Lets hope that the weather stays mild – some dry days would be good as we have THREE workdays between Christmas and New Year. These ‘Twixmas’ workdays are an excellent way to burn off a few surplus Christmas calories.

On Wednesday 28th December we have our first Twixmas workday at Walcot Woods – this will be woodland work. Matt is leading the day. Then, on Friday 30th and Saturday 31st December we have workdays at Dudmaston. Laura is leading these two workdays with woodland work on the menu. There is accomodation at Big Mose Cottage for those that need it and as 31st December is New Years Eve, there will be a party atmosphere at the Cottage.

All thats left to say is to wish you a Very Happy Christmas.

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