Tell us a bit about yourself – what do you do when you’re not volunteering?
I am an office worker and spend most of my professional time in front of a computer dealing with data and virtual paperwork. I guess that’s why, when I have a free moment, I seek contact with nature and with people. I enjoy green spaces and gardening/landscaping; and taking part in activities in my community. I enjoy languages and reading; and I love art, both visual and musical (I sing all the time).
What sort of volunteering work do you do with the Friends of Windmill Gardens (FoWG)?
I am part of the FoWG Parks sub-committee that maintains and spruces up Windmill Gardens, the park that houses the windmill. This year we won our Community Green Flag for the fourth year in a row. We also supply organic vegetables at rock bottom price to the local community in accord with FoWG’s aim to promote healthy nutrition. ‘
The Parks group also organises loads of activities, from health and wellbeing (tai chi sessions, bulb planting and monthly gardening sessions as well as foraging and preserve making workshops) to family events (bat walks and art in the park) and fundraising activities like a bric-a-brac stall.
How did you get into volunteering with FoWG?
For years I walked past the windmill on the way to and from my allotment. I found its black shape striking and oddly comforting, though it looked forlorn and abandoned. One day I was pleasantly surprised to see quite a few people around it in the park, so I walked in to see what was going on and learned about FoWG. It was 2004 and I joined on the spot.
What is your favourite thing about volunteering?
A sense of usefulness and the contact with people both in my community and beyond. With Brixton an open door to the world we do get visitors of all nations I am sometimes called upon to speak to visitors in French or German.
What is the one piece of advice you’d give to someone looking to volunteer?
Keep an open mind. As well as your area of expertise, you may learn more about yourself by discovering another way of helping you hadn’t thought of before. There is a vast choice of of areas where you can help – you may decide to volunteer to become a guide or a miller, for instance. And we’re looking to form a windmill choir!
How do you feel you have benefited from volunteering with FoWG?
As well as meeting loads of people and feeling useful to my community, I have improved myself by taking advantage of training opportunities offered by FoWG. It gave me additional transferable skills useful both for the windmill and for myself in other capacities. I have learned a lot about the place I live and made friends who have become very close.
Finally, tell us a surprising fact about the windmill that people may not know.
I guess it’s not called Brixton best kept secret for nothing. It’s surprising how few people know about the windmill still!