If you visit us you’ll meet our ‘front of house’ volunteers but Little Hall wouldn’t be the success it is without the work done behind the scenes. Amongst our unsung heroes are the gardeners who keep the surroundings as impressive as the contents. Our longest serving volunteer is one of these, Alan Gilpin and his contribution has recently been recognised in two awards: the SHARE Silver Owl award and the Suffolk Preservation Society Heritage Champion Award.
Alan came to Lavenham on retiring from banking. Sheila, his wife, heard that Little Hall was looking for gardeners and volunteered Alan. That was 1997 and Alan is still with us. Renee Attew was chair of the management committee and soon identified Alan as the man to take care of the building. For several years he performed that vital role, repairing and decorating, and on one occasion getting a distress call from a lady locked in the SPS office.
The day came when he was advised that men of his age shouldn’t be going up ladders. About that time the gardeners had lost their mowing man so Alan moved to that role, and he’s been mowing weekly ever since. You can see he takes it seriously, edges as well.
A few of the gardeners have their own special plant. Alan’s is a magnolia called Susan and you can see he’s very proud of her.
Another gardening perk seems to be mixing with royalty. Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall were so impressed with Little Hall that the team was invited back to Highgrove. Alan had met His Royal Highness before, having been a mentor for the Princes Trust back in his working days.
He’s been a lifelong volunteer, one way and another and still going at 84. Our grateful thanks for your part in making this special property an enjoyment for so many people.
If you’d like to become our longest-serving volunteer, now’s the time to start. See Volunteering for details.