Why I volunteer… Nick Fletcher

Chiswick House and Gardens could not be the vibrant place that it is without our volunteers. With the gardeners, beekeepers, tour guides, visitor welcome, archivists and rangers all added together we have over 150 volunteers. In this series of blogs, we hear from our volunteers about what got them involved with Chiswick, and why it is special to them. This week, we start off with ranger Nick Fletcher:

‘My name is Nick and I’ve been a volunteer ranger at Chiswick House and Gardens for around four years.  I discovered the role after reading on chiswickw4.com that the Trust was looking for volunteer rangers.

It’s a wonderful job. Though by definition unpaid, the rewards are great. I’ve signed up to do one four-hour shift per week, but I can do more or less hours and take holidays without any bother.

As I drive the buggy around the grounds, it’s lovely to come across and speak to friends, neighbours and complete strangers. But the real treat for me is the wonderful variety of scenery, ever-changing with the weather and the seasons. Some days can seem a bit grim in the weather department, yet you get through these shifts still always having a good sense of achievement.

I’m 72 now. I retired at 59, then became a self-employed handyman around Chiswick. However I was letting the handyman work peter out when I came across the ranger job here at Chiswick House and Gardens.

Recently I’ve been taking a specific interest both in repairing benches and in refurbishing the spring-loaded flaps of the dog waste bins. Based on my one shift per week, my aspiration of a perfect set of benches and bins is still some way off in time!

Volunteer ranger Nick Fletcher carrying out bench maintenance.

The shift typically starts with going round to top up the dog waste bag dispensers at each of the park entrances.  With the popularity of dog walking in the Gardens, we’re putting out more bags than ever before. The weekly total varies between eight and ten thousand, an enormous number!

As I drive round the Grounds, I pick up any litter and watch out for anything unusual. With my round completed, I can then address any of the general maintenance needs or special requirements on the day, for example, removing graffiti, putting up or taking down posters, washing signage, painting a bench, changing the “Closing Time” signs.

The way I see it, and what makes me feel good, is that at the end of my shift I always know that the park is being left in a better state than when I arrived.’