Cross-pollination is critical to the wellbeing of life in every form. It’s not only the transfer of pollen from the anther of one flower of a plant to the stigma of another plant flower by the action of wind, bees, insect and so on according to nature, but the influence or inspiration between or among diverse elements: It’s the fundamental essential whereby entities large and small rely on input from one another and the outcome of which so inspires the other that all the participants cannot help themselves but engage in some involved measure in the doing rather than superficial spectating.
At Penrhyn Castle here in North Wales we receive over two hundred thousand visitors each year. These visitors may be purely interested in history, culture, conservation, preservation, shopping, eating in an NT café for lunch or dozens of other reasons. Behind the scenes I want to tell you of other aspects that are not so obvious but nonetheless important to the wellbeing of the castle and its conservation efforts.
Of course you already know that I have my woodworking school New Legacy here at the castle. I first demonstrated for the NT as a volunteer at Penrhyn Castle in 2007. From that I decided to open my first UK school there and that’s has all progressed nicely, but behind the scenes is a plexus of complexities that make both NT and Penrhyn Castle very unique. For instance, did you know that Resi Tomat and her friends and colleagues run a range of educational programs including a woodland school for children to gain understanding of wild and woodland life and that they host many dozens of children in a dedicated area set aside to promote conservation and sustainable culture? That the kids attending build outdoor shelters, learn practical outdoor skills and plant edible fruit and nut bearing plants? What about the indoor classroom in the castle itself. Children can learn about early Welsh education and step back in time to become children of 150-years ago. Through the years I have seen dozens of events at the castle designed especially with children, parents and schools in mind that fill in some of the gaps children may never see.
Behind the beautiful landscape is a man called Mike who works as head gardener. You may meet him and you may not. He’s a practical man with down-to-earth values and a protagonist for the wellbeing of plant and animal life within the Trusts hundreds of acres of wood and parkland. His coworkers are a handful of men and women who give their best to ensure safety for all life. I see them where others may not. On their knees or bellies pulling excess dead and weed from fishponds and in the wild parts making certain trees are lopped for their wellbeing. Penrhyn Castle has been a haven to cuckoos and warblers, robins and a wide range of wild birdlife because of the efforts this staff puts into conservation and sustainable culture.
Of course the castle itself is an amazing place to visit. There is no doubt that this opulent mansion with its 350 rooms was built to last and last it will as historically representative of life and culture of Llnadygai, Bangor and of course the surrounding mining villages and the lives upon which it was built.
My friend Richard just came to one of my classes and we enjoyed three days together last week. All of the students ate there last week, but I had too much cooking to join them. This next week will be quieter.
As for me. My school began its UK passage in restoring traditional hand skills and about two hundred woodworkers have now gained personal skills through New Legacy UK. We have plans for hundreds of others to gain competency and confidence over the coming years and of course we will always demonstrate to hundreds of visitors every week as time allows. We began the Real Woodworking Campaign here and so I will always be thankful for the National Trust.