Penny Edwards


Penny Edwards has been volunteering for English Heritage Trust in Northumberland since 2019. Penny joined the Trust as a Monitor Volunteer at a variety of sites, including Berwick Ramparts and Temple of Mithras on Hadrian’s Wall. The role involves caring for the presentation of our free sites, reporting on damage and chatting to visitors.

In summer 2020, with the Monitor role on hold due to the pandemic, Penny also became involved in English Heritage’s Volunteer Engagement Team. Helping from home, Penny was a valued member of the team who worked tirelessly to help volunteers across the country keep in touch when they were unable to return to their sites for their usual volunteering. Penny continues to help run a successful series of quizzes for volunteers across the country.

Of the experience so far, Penny has said “I have found volunteering with English Heritage to be a very positive experience. It allows me to make a useful contribution to our historic environment, which is something I really care about. The role has encouraged me to find out much more about the sites I visit, and it has been nice to interact with other people with similar interests. I definitely feel valued by the organisation I volunteer for, and that is a good feeling to have!”




Northumberland Rivers Trust Coke 1


Corporate volunteering: It’s the real thing 


Over the last few months, a small group of enthusiastic volunteers have been working with Northumberland Rivers Trust to transform a little piece of Northumberland.

Middleton North is a small estate in the heart of Northumberland located 9 miles West of Morpeth. It currently comprises a mixture of arable, pasture, woodland and a stretch of the river Wansbeck. The owners, Charlotte and Charlie Bennett, are passionate about wildlife and are working hard to make their business sustainable and to promote good practise.

Partnering with Northumberland Rivers Trust has meant that targeted habitat restoration and creation also acts to improve water quality, reduce flood risk, and create new wetland habitats.

Key to this has been the involvement of volunteers, including the team from the Coca Cola bottling plant who have swapped their normal 9-5 for a hard day planting trees or building hides for wildlife watching.

The weather has not put anybody off, even the odd rainy or wintry day! Arriving with a smile and leaving with a satisfied grin on the face is everybody’s experience. In between is a day full of banter and gentle learning and at the end, looking on back on what has been done is genuinely rewarding for the participant and the “team”. Most want to come back again and this starts to build the volunteer support that many organisations need in order to achieve their aims.

NRT, for instance, has only two staff, employed one day a week, but deliver a huge range of works across Northumberland, many due to the efforts of volunteers, including its Trustees.

Corporate volunteering is a great way for employees to make a difference, whatever the size of the organisation. The business benefits too, through greater employee engagement, better relationships and developing strong links within the local community.

Of course, seeing is believing and one cannot be anything but impressed with the 3000 trees and 19 wetlands that have been completed to date. Thanks to those volunteers.

Steve Lowe

Northumberland Rivers Trust


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Image by Hans Braxmeier from Pixabay


Michael Smith is a volunteer for walking and cycling charity SUSTRANS, custodian of the National Cycle Network.  Here Michael describes all the different roles he takes on as part of his volunteering work. “My roles at Sustrans are many and varied and include:

  • GROUP COORDINATOR: I am responsible for managing a group of volunteers and arranging events and communicating them to my group such as inspection rides on the cycleways where we check and replace signs as necessary.Arranging workdays to maintain  the cycle tracks. 
  • BIKE MECHANIC: I maintain Sustrans staff pool bikes and the bikes at the Rising Sun Country Park cycle hub.
  • RIDE MANAGER: I arrange group rides, which involves riding the route and risk assessing it, arranging marshals, and managing the ride to make sure it is safe for participants.“I also spend one day a week in Sustrans head office where I do various tasks.

“I got involved with Sustrans when I retired because I have been a cyclist for many years and wanted to give something back for all the time I'd  spent on the excellent cycle network. “The benefits of volunteering are many and include: the satisfaction of knowing I am giving something back to cycling and doing something good, socialising, and working with like-minded people. “A huge benefit of volunteering is that I look upon this role as a job but it is stress-free as I can pick and choose when I work, unlike in paid work where you have all the stresses that come with working for an employer.

“I'm not yet ready to stop work completely and volunteering is an excellent way to do this and the benefits are hugely rewarding.” 








It's Volunteers' Week 2021 - a time to say 'THANK YOU' to all the volunteers who support our communities.

It's also a great time to look at any support your group or organisation may need to help develop your volunteer-involving practices so you can give your current and future volunteers a wonderful volunteering experience.

Part of our work at Northumberland CVA is to offer support to volunteer-involving organisations, whether that be support with writing enticing role descriptions, advertising and matching your opportunities to prospective volunteers, or establishing effective volunteer policies. 

Whatever the support your group needs, contact Caroline Burden: email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

And, in the meantime, take a look at what people are saying about the support we offer:


Cramlington Community Engagement Team

 Cramlington Town Council      

"Cramlington Community Engagement Team proactively works with community members, groups, and organisations to identify ways to strengthen and build strong networks, form trusting relationships. 

After discussions with groups and individuals in the community it became apparent there were a number of our community organisations who needed volunteers, and also a number of people looking for volunteer opportunities. What seemed to be missing was someone to join the dots; then we discovered Northumberland CVA Volunteer coordinator, Caroline Burden. Who has been simply amazing!
“Over the past few months the team have worked closely with Caroline, which has enabled us to not only link the groups and individuals we were aware of to register their interest or opportunity, but also promote the service to others via our social media channels, fully safe in the knowledge that community organisations who register also have the added benefit of full wrap-around support from the other elements of Northumberland CVA as an organisation, such as funding support, COVID-specific advice and information and governance support, to name just a few.  All of which has led to this becoming a hugely successful partnership.”
Maggie Martin
Community and Youth Manager, Cramlington Community Engagement Team
Cramlington Town Council


ESCAPE Family Support

 Escape logo new    "Caroline has referred three individuals to ESCAPE who were looking to become involved in charity work.  All three were excellent candidates and we have offered them each a role with ESCAPE as either trustee or volunteer.
"They all bring high level skills and we feel fortunate to have attracted them to our Charity.  I don't think we would have attracted such high calibre candidates without the referral service from Northumberland CVA, for which we are very grateful."
Jackie Axelby
Chair of Trustees
ESCAPE Family Support











To go with John Greys story

Image credit: ©English Heritage Trust


John Gray has volunteered with English Heritage Trust since September 2019.  He started his volunteering journey as a Commercial Property Surveyor Volunteer, helping within the Commercial Estates Team at their office in Bessie Surtees House, Newcastle. 

When the COVID pandemic began, John’s office-based role was put on hold.  John then came forward to become a Monitor Volunteer, helping English Heritage’s Free Sites Team care for a multitude of sites along Hadrian’s Wall. John’s role includes checking sites for damage, caring for site presentation and ensuring our teams are kept in the loop regarding any onsite changes. 

"Volunteering with English Heritage has helped me to keep active in retirement while indulging a lifelong interest in history and buildings. I have been able to use my previous experience to assist in their commercial property department, which is fascinating: and more recently I have started helping with the monitoring of some of their free sites along Hadrian's Wall, which regularly gets me out and about in the wonderful Northumberland countryside. 

"Interesting places, fresh air and exercise, friendly and helpful staff support has made this a very enjoyable and worthwhile activity."






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