It’s fair to say we couldn’t have got the retreat house ready in time for our first group of the year without the help of a small army of volunteers. On standby for two days, they were finally able to get to grips with the big clean with hours to go, and they did us proud.

Housekeeping is another area which has been actively looking for volunteers in recent months. Housekeeping supervisor Maggie Main explained, “Our busiest periods are often weekends, but last year we started to get more weekday bookings. That’s great, but it meant that we started to see a few pinch points when we had to turn around one or even both houses in a few hours.

“If I say that it takes 20 minutes to turn each room around, and there are 30 in the retreat house alone plus public spaces, you begin to see the problems we face.”

Maggie is the only one of the three strong housekeeping team who is full time- colleagues Lynda and Grazyna both work three days a week. On top of the turnaround tasks, they wash, dry and iron all the laundry, deep clean the dining rooms each week, clean the church and the youth centre and lay out the large rooms according to each group’s needs.

“For our regular yoga group we have to take all the chairs out of the ballroom, and put them all back again on the Monday,” said Maggie.

Maggie is keen to take on more volunteers to help them. “We will give them the training they need in health and safety, manual handling, handling chemicals an so on and then if they were able to commit to anything from the odd hour to a day or two that would be great – I’d rather people came and were happy with what they were asked to do than feel obligated.”

“Mondays and Fridays are big turnaround days, but even if people didn’t feel up to more strenuous jobs, there’s still the public areas to vacuum and dust, or someone might fancy taking on cleaning the church on a regular basis.”

If you think you could help our housekeepers, contact Jean Haldane on 01434 673248, or at jhaldane@minsteracres.org to talk to her about becoming a volunteer.