Chester House Estate and Nenescape partner to recruit volunteers for £14.5m attraction

Chester House Estate will offer multiple volunteering opportunities

Thursday, 10th June 2021, 8:45 am

As Northamptonshire's newest £14.5 million heritage tourist attraction takes shape, the team behind the project has partnered with another local organisation to recruit volunteers.

The partnership between Chester House Estate and Nenescape will enable people to get involved in the important historical site, located between Wellingborough and Rushden, in the run up to its opening, and beyond.

The collaboration between Chester House Estate and the Nenescape Landscape Partnership Scheme will enable the estate to benefit from Nenescape’s volunteering expertise at a key moment as it enters the final period in the build-up towards opening as a visitor attraction this autumn.

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l-r Sofie Pedley (Education Intern), Jack Pishhorn, (Chester House Estate Business Manager), Georgia Wales (Marketing Intern), Denise Horn (Nenescape Project Support and Volunteer Co-ordinator), Amanda Johnson (Nenescape Scheme Manager), and Ben Donnelly-Symes (Archaeological Archives Curator).

Jack Pishhorn, business manager at Chester House Estate, said: “We are really pleased to announce this important working relationship. Nenescape will be playing a significant role in the development of the site and they are now the first port of contact for anyone interested in volunteering at Chester House Estate. They’ll be supporting us with the administration, including the recruitment and retention of our volunteers.”

Representatives from each party met on site recently for a tour and to talk through the various projects and the wide-ranging opportunities for volunteers made possible thanks to National Lottery funding.

Hands-on volunteer roles can now be applied for, including working on the creation of boxwood, herb, and children’s vegetable gardens, planting and maintaining the orchard, and helping with chickens and beekeeping. Volunteers are also being sought to help construct a pathway to allow people to stand close to what once was an old Roman town.

Like Chester House Estate, Nenescape is a National Lottery Heritage funded collaborative project. It brings together organisations from along the River Nene between Northampton and Peterborough to celebrate, protect and conserve the natural and built heritage of the landscape. River Nene Regional Park is leading the project, supported by the University of Northampton and 16 core partner organisations from a wide range of disciplines.

An artist's impression of the entrance

One of the first key projects to be completed at Chester House Estate – a brand new mooring on the River Nene – came about thanks to the work of the Nenescape team working in conjunction with the Environment Agency. It means that once the site is fully open, people will be able to visit via the river, mooring their boats to the floating platform which also houses portage for canoes.

Amanda Johnson, scheme manager at Nenescape, said: “We are delighted to be working with Jack and his team at Chester House Estate. Thanks to the National Lottery players, these two projects can bring enormous benefits for the local community. There will be numerous activities and projects for volunteers to get involved in – it’s a really exciting time.”

Nenescape runs a volunteer task force programme which signposts opportunities, helps recruit volunteers and organises specific events and training to support this.

Chester House Estate will be a wedding venue

Nenescape Volunteer Manager, Denise Horn said: “The introduction of the Archaeological Resource Centre at Chester House Estate will become an incredible asset for the county and provides a natural fit for Nenescape’s historic research volunteer team.

"The estate’s landscape management projects also offer many opportunities for Nenescape’s LOCK (Local outdoor conservation and knowledge) volunteers to continue developing their conservation skills and in return help manage the Chester House Estate grounds and facilities.

"Our EYES team (Engagement, Youth and Events Support) is recruited annually to support partner summer events, primarily the Nene Valley Festival organised by Destination Nene Valley. As events programmes grow at Chester House Estate, we will be able to strengthen the numbers of this team to better support the wider community events between partner sites across the Nene Valley.”

Large numbers of volunteers have signed up to help with cataloguing the historical artefacts as they arrive at the Archaeological Resource Centre.

Jack Pishhorn

Once the various different elements are completed, volunteers will have the opportunity to get involved throughout the site, from the shop and café, to handling administration processes, and the education centre that will house an exhibition which will bring to life the site’s nationally significant heritage with evidence of over 10,000 years of human activity.

Mr Pishhorn added: “The education aspect of the volunteer programme is incredibly important and having volunteers take part in all aspects of our activities will ensure that our operation will always be entirely sustainable. It is vital that we are seen as self-sufficient so we can continue to reinvest into the site.

“Nenescape will play a key role in the progress of Chester House Estate; they have already brought a huge amount to us in terms of resource and support.”

Anyone interested in registering their interest in volunteer roles can do so on the Chester House Estate website.