My Craigtoun Volunteer Experience
by Eric Box
Several years ago, I was advised to attend an NHS sponsored fitness class in Cupar as I had health problems and it was there that I met Tom, a volunteer at Craigtoun Country Park, and Kyff Roberts, who was the Chairman of the Friends of Craigtoun Country Park. I live just five minutes away from the Park in Strathkinness but had not visited the place in over 30 years.
Kyff encouraged me to visit the park with a view to becoming a volunteer and I duly turned up one day to be interviewed by Doug. I have experience with IT and so took up a position in the Admin Office compiling an inventory of every piece of equipment owned by the Friends of Craigtoun. As you can imagine, this kept me occupied for many months as I burrowed into every nook and cranny, drawer and cupboard, workshop and café, to seek out exactly what the charity owned. I also helped out in the Ticket Office on a regular basis.
Doing all of this, I was able to explore and to discover what an outstandingly beautiful place the park is. It was, at that time, tended by a talented team of Fife Council gardeners and the renovation of attractions, repairs to bridges, fences etc., was undertaken by the Friends’ volunteers. Seasonal staff were employed to assist with the thousands of visitors who attended the park and to work in the café and paid attractions.
My wife and I also helped out at the Halloween evenings when we dressed up as a witch and vampire to keep the skeletons on the train company and amuse the many visitors. We also took great delight in taking our young granddaughter to the park where she had a fantastic time both on the paid and unpaid attractions that the park has on offer.
During this time, it became known by the staff that I owned a professional sound system and that I was experienced in presenting shows. As a result, I became the resident DJ and MC for all the major events held throughout the year by the charity. In reality, this meant that I played music and announced the upcoming attractions at the events. Nothing glamorous but great fun and it enabled me to get to know all the stall holders.
During all my time at the Park, I was supported and encouraged by Kyff and Doug, Mandy and Karen. They made an incredible team and I really enjoyed myself there. Although the Park is struggling during the Covid lockdowns, I truly hope that it gets through this and returns to its position as one of the top attractions in Scotland.