Working in some of the world’s most beautiful settings cannot be underestimated

Published : Sun 1st Nov Author : Dawn Barlow, Visitor Operations Manager

Having originally started as a Volunteer at the Trust three years ago, Hughenden Manor’s Visitor Operations Manager Dawn Barlow talks about her incredible journey, making a lasting impact, and feeling at home in every property.

My first ever experience of the National Trust was in 2012, when I moved to the UK from the US with my husband. Having previously worked as a Director of Communications, I was struggling to find work and knew nothing of the Trust, until we were driving through Basingstoke one day. I kept seeing these brown signs for ‘The Vyne’ and curious to find out what this was, I asked my husband who eventually took me there, and from then I was hooked!

After becoming a member I signed up as a volunteer, before getting a job as a Catering Supervisor and working my way up to my current role. Working for the National Trust is unlike any other experience I’ve ever had. When I joined back in 2012, I felt like I became part of an extended family, and I’ve made so many friends since joining. My General Manager is also an inspiration, and has always encouraged me to do more and continuously develop.

At Hughenden we’ve recently made some developments to our visitor experience. As well as opening a new car park, we’ve also built a new kiosk to change our visitor welcome. This has been a great success for us, giving us more opportunities to talk to visitors about memberships.

You don’t always get a sense of the Trust’s size when you’re at your property, but when you attend regional meetings and larger gatherings, you start to get a sense of just how big its portfolio is. Despite this, anytime I visit another property I’m always welcomed with open arms and immediately made to feel at home. Each National Trust property has its own unique dynamic and little family, and that’s exactly how we want our members to feel; after all they are the ones who own the Trust!

The opportunity to work in some of the world’s most beautiful settings just cannot be underestimated, and here you’re able to make decisions which make a lasting impact. Even on difficult days you’re still surrounded by the very reason the Trust exists, and it’s also fantastic to work with like-minded individuals who share the same values around the preservation of culture and heritage.