The tasks we support are usually outdoors and include tree planting, coppicing, scrub clearance and fence building. We also have ad-hoc tasks such as boardwalk construction on Orford Ness or pulling Reed Mace at Flatford Mill. Many tasks involve a bonfire. Volunteering with us is rewarding, and the group is friendly and sociable. There is a tea break and lunch break during the day, with hot drinks, biscuits and cake.
Essex & Suffolk NTV is an inclusive group, offering volunteering opportunities to all ages and abilities. Under 18s are welcome to attend, but must be accompanied by a parent or responsible adult, and complete a parental consent form.
We do not have a formal membership with our group, however all volunteers contributing at least 50 hours in a year will receive a National Trust Volunteer Card. This is valid for one year and allows free entry to all NT properties, some of the benefits of NT membership, plus discount off purchases in NT shops and cafes, on NT holidays and a range of other discounts.
The Group owns and maintains a selection of tools, and instructions on how to use them safely is given. Insurance is provided by the Trust whilst we are working on its properties.
These are the properties we help maintain, and some of the activities we undertake:
- Bourne Mill – 16th century water mill – still with some machinery – on the south side of Colchester town centre. We work in the grounds, the garden, the mill pond, the sluice and the mill race as well as the mill itself
- Bridges Farm and Lower Barn Farm – Suffolk farms with water meadows and boathouse at Flatford. Work involves fencing, property maintenance, cutting down and disposal of hedges, and reinforcing the river bank (revetment)
- Copt Hall Marshes – this is an area of marshland which National Trust plays a significant conservation role. The habitat is carefully preserved with support from Natural England’s ‘Higher Level Stewardship’ scheme. Our tasks here support the ongoing conservation work
- Danbury Commons, Lingwood Common and Blakes Wood – 214 acres of common land, incorporating heath, gorse and coppice. The area encompasses a Site of Special Scientific Interest, ancient woodland and military defences, which we carefully manage to encourage growth of rare flora and fauna
- Dedham Vale – Base for working on the Trust’s estate east of Dedham. Tasks much as Bridges Farm
- Dunwich. Extensive lowland heath on the Suffolk coast. Tasks are like Bridges Farm and Lower Barn Farm, and also culling invasive birch has been an activity in the past. We also help maintain Mount Pleasant Farm – which forms part of the estate – with fencing, and further control of invasive species
- Fen bridge – Area between Flatford and Dedham with views over the Stour valley. Lots of fencing and coppicing of diseased elms with bonfires
- Flatford – we have several worksites here, including the Dry Dock which is drained each year, and the ‘Haywain’ mill pond between the Mill and Willy Lot’s cottage. Our tasks have included planting trees and fencing around the surrounding land, and building an otter holt. When the Trust acquired parts of Orvis Farm, we installed farm gates and built culverts
- Ickworth – Ickworth is one of the most unusual and interesting of Trust properties; an elegant Italianate house and gardens set within spectacular English parkland. The extensive wooded parkland, created in part by Capability Brown, is a living landscape where wildlife thrives. Our work here includes gardening tasks and managing hedges, shrubs and trees
- Kyson Hill – Small ‘park style’ open space overlooking the south bank of the Deben, just east of Woodbridge. Site of the annual hay cut, stud post renewal, step maintenance and felling trees to retain the view of the river
- Melford Hall – a large red brick house dating mainly from the 16th century. It incorporates part of a medieval building held by the Abbots of Bury St Edmunds. It stands beside the River Chad, at the northern end of Long Melford. We help maintain the gardens, and nearby wood
- Northey Island – accessed via a tidal causeway, we have recently started supporting the property, since our expansion to include Essex. The island includes salt marsh, farmland and – of course – shoreline to manage and maintain
- Orford Ness – One of our most interesting properties. A unique shingle spit offering distinctive fauna and flora and also steeped in military and nuclear history. Access is by boat from Orford Quay
- Pin Mill – Our tasks here support turning the property into a lowland heath, like Dunwich. This has involved cutting back gorse to promote heather, so there is a lot of bowsaw and lopper use, together with bonfires. Pin Mill also has an escarpment along the Orwell river bank. We support footpath maintenance, revetment work and cut back undergrowth here
- Sutton Hoo – Along with the Visitor Centre there is an extensive Trust estate at Sutton Hoo. This means Bridges Farm style tasks for us, and also we have built bridges, steps and miles of fences. We have previously supported ‘Megabashes’, to remove invasive Ragwort so that sheep can now safely graze
- Thorington Hall – One of Suffolk’s oldest and most intriguing houses, this is available to book for up to 18 people as Holiday accommodation. There’s a large garden and orchard, which we help to maintain