We have the absolute pleasure of introducing you to Margaret Bourner, our longest serving volunteer - 26 years to be precise! We found it fascinating to listen to her talk about her experiences at The Holly Lodge Centre and how it has evolved over time.
When Margaret retired from her job as a Personnel Manager in NatWest Bank she found that after a busy office life she was missing company but she kept herself occupied helping to raise funds for Kingston Hospital who needed a CT Scanner - the target was a mere £1,000,000 and was achieved!
Margaret also enjoyed passing time exploring Richmond Park, living so close to Kingston Gate meant the park was literally on her doorstep and she developed a keen interest in how the Royal Park was run. When Margaret saw a volunteering role for an administrative assistant at The Holly Lodge Centre in the 'Friends of Richmond Park' magazine she thought it sounded perfect as she had the skills to help and would be working in such wonderful surroundings.
At that time, Dr. Pat Ealey ran the centre and Margaret worked alongside her in the office; taking school bookings over the phone, keeping the diary up to date, calling up and securing volunteers for booked sessions, book keeping, paper work concerning donations, writing letters of thanks, banking, going to the bank and more! During her time she has seen many changes in technology, everything moving from paper to being mainly computer based.
Margaret remembers other changes too, she recalls the mounted police in the park, the stables full of Shire horses and can even remember Concorde flying over the park on its very last flight! She remembers with fondness a time when she met Sir David Attenborough who was opening our nature trail, he asked her how long she had worked here and when she told him that it was 20 years he replied "You must have started as a child!" Such a charmer! Another fond memory Margaret shared with us was when our Royal Patron. Princess Alexandra came to visit - somewhere there is a photo of the Princess's very elegant boot but taking centre stage in the picture is Margaret's dog, a Bichon Frise called Chloe who often came to work with her!
We asked Margaret what she might say to people considering volunteering here, "There is nowhere like it, it's unique. There can't be many places where you can work surrounded by wildlife and the company is marvellous. It was so interesting to meet the gamekeepers, the gardeners at that time and to observe the pleasure the Special Needs students gained when taking part in the Art class or in the Garden. Being involved in such a beautiful place has been a privilege and a pleasure”
Thank you Margaret for your dedication to The Holly Lodge Centre, we are lucky to have you.