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  • Busman’s holiday (Weekly blog, 15 November 2015)

    Posted on November 15, 2015
    A blog by Catherine Leonard, INTO Secretary-General
    Find out more about our 2016 programme

    Find out more about our 2016 programme

    Wonderful to see the INTO Working Holidays on both our the INTO site and the National Trust’s great new website last week.  Thanks to our project manager, Julie Thompson, for liaising with INTO members to deliver the 2016 programme in an exemplary way.   We all look forward to spaces booking up as quickly as last year, so that we can help our member organisations deliver good conservation work whilst engaging more people in the amazing work they do.

    So, next year you can try archaeology in Spain, save Renaissance treasures in Slovakia, restore a garden in the Czech Republic, stone-masonry in France or blacksmithing and textile work in Romania.  Definitely something for everyone!  Check out the details here.

    Earlier this year, I joined a National Trust Working Holiday in Wales myself. I’ve had many memorable experiences during my time working for the National Trust – from dressing as an 18th Century gardener in the Queen Mother’s 100th Birthday Parade, to sailing on a replica schooner as part of the 35th Neptune anniversary celebrations (this year, Neptune turned 50!).   From cracking my head open at the European Parliament to driving a minibus full of Central European heritage experts around the UK for a week.   From walking the Camino Inglés in the rain to introducing INTO members and supporters to HRH The Prince of Wales.   But this was my first Working Holiday.   And I had the joy of sharing it with my 8 year old son, Monty as it was a Family Working Holiday.

    1.tif HRH CAL speaking in forest Sara, Kirst and Catherine Read my Camino blog hereI’ve always wondered whether Working Holidays were about building engagement, getting the work done or raising money.   Our experience at Stackpole taught me that it’s predominantly about the first, with a bit of the second.   The last doesn’t really figure.

    Our team was tasked with repairing footpaths, building a bicycle obstacle course and litter picking on the beach.   We also spent half a day exploring bike paths on the estate and not an inconsiderable amount of time enjoying the lovely beaches …

    It was a truly fantastic experience.   The best bit?   Walking with Monty around the Estate one evening and the day we ‘discovered’ Church Rock.   I had simply not expected Stackpole to be quite so picturesque.   (I’m afraid the name sounded rather dull to be me.)  But I was absolutely astonished by the sheer beauty of the place, the emotions it stirred (we all do like to be beside the seaside after all) and the backdrop it provided for some mother/son bonding.   I’m sure the 2016 INTO Working Holidays Programme will provide similarly fantastic experiences, which teach, move and inspire!

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