Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh, 21 May 2019; The National Trust was delighted to welcome its President, HRH The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall to Castle Coole, alongside 1,000 invited guests and dignitaries as part of the Secretary of State’s garden party.


This is the first time Their Royal Highnesses have visited the property although the estate has played host to various members of the Royal Family over the years. The Prince of Wales’ grandmother, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, visited Castle Coole in 1988, when she formally reopened the house following extensive restoration works.


At this special event, Their Royal Highnesses recognised some of the National Trust’s longest serving volunteers in Fermanagh, who cumulatively, have given an amazing 60 years of their time to the conservation charity.


Invited volunteers included Joan Hill, who spent many years working as a tour guide at Castle Coole, before retiring and returning as a volunteer for 19 years, carrying out historical research on the property. Thomas Maguire and Lizzie Hogg have volunteered in the house at Castle Coole for over 9 years, welcoming visitors and developing the Queen Anne Tour. Outdoors, Ian Thompson has volunteered with the Castle Coole ranger team for 5 years, taking care of the 400 acres of woodland and parkland.


National Trust volunteers from further afield in Fermanagh were also recognised: Jules Caithness, who founded, and regularly volunteers in, the National Lottery Heritage-Funded Florence Court Kitchen Garden, and Bert Robinson, who has given his time to all of the National Trust places and spaces in Fermanagh, supporting the running of the saw mill at Florence Court and the restoration of the 100 year old cot at Crom.


Heather McLachlan, Director of the National Trust in Northern Ireland said: “It is thanks to the hard work of these and many other volunteers, who support the small team of staff who work day in day out to look after this special 18th Century house that the many acres of woodland and gardens which surrounds it can thrive, and that almost 36,000 visitors each year can enjoy time spent here.


“Across Northern Ireland there are over 3,000 incredible volunteers who give us over 150,000 hours of their time each year, in roles from rangers and gardeners to event and visitor welcome volunteers, to corporate volunteering groups and many more. We simply couldn’t take care of all of the places and spaces in our care without their help, so I am delighted to see them recognised by our President here today.”


If you have been inspired by the stories of these volunteers and you would like to be involved, please visit this site to find a volunteer opportunity with the National Trust near you:

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