Volunteer Award 2023 Nominee – The Gardens Trust Online Events Team

Members of the GT Online Events Team, Patience Shone (left) and Sandra Pullen (right)

Nominated for: Making a difference to the day-to-day running of the GT and for reaching new audiences to encourage interest and/or involvement in garden history.

When Covid-19 broke out in 2020, David Marsh was co-Chair of the Gardens Trust’s Education & Training Committee. Here, he describes how a team of volunteers helped the GT’s online events take off.

“When the pandemic started and the GT decided to begin an online programme I soon realised that it was more than one person could manage.  I contacted about 15 of the students who had been attending courses I ran, and 10 volunteered to help. From late summer 2020, the team undertook group training to learn and manage every aspect of Zoom meetings.

They learned fast and over the course of the next few months offered similar training to all County Gardens Trusts, which was taken up by eight Trusts with the aim of enabling them to run their own online events, initially with support from the team and then independently. This meant that CGTs could continue to offer events during the pandemic, and indeed afterwards, some gained many new members as a result.

Since then the team have effectively been self-managing. They run the technical side of the programme, as well as hosting and dealing with questions, for up to 4 events a week.  As part of this they have offered training and rehearsals to dozens of speakers, giving confidence and generally ensuring high standards for the online lectures. They have also developed excellent relations with a range of partner organisations including many CGTs.

The team has worked extremely well together, and with minimal oversight, continually improving the running of the programme and ensuring the GT has appeared professional.  The result has been the successful delivery of what has become a much-valued GT service, and in the process has attracted large audiences including many new to the GT, including from overseas. Of course, it has also generated a significant income for the GT, which has enabled us to develop our charitable work.

All this has been done with enormous patience, very few grumbles and much good humour. It has been enormous fun to work with them.”

Congratulations to all the members of the Online Events Team: Charlotte Casella, Jane Clifton, Jill Devon, Rosalind Durant, Jill Francis, Margherita Janowski, Pauline Kinch, Liz Lovell, Susie Pettit, Sandra Pullen and Patience Shone.