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Liz du Parcq

Image: Douglas Muir

Liz du Parcq

Volunteer trustee and walks guide

Tell us a bit about yourself - what do you do when you're not volunteering?

I love classical music. I go regularly to concerts at the Royal Festival Hall and have sung in a big London choir for about 25 years. I am also a regular theatregoer, and I love to travel.

I have pretty much retired as a London Blue Badge Guide but, having been researching my family tree for about 10 years, am now writing it up in the context of London’s history. Some of my ancestors are Londoners, others gravitated to London from Jersey and the Midlands; there are also 19th-century connections to and from Canada, the US and New Zealand.

I have lived in Lambeth and been active in local politics for 50 years, and first got to know the windmill when I was an elected councillor for the old Town Hall Ward 1974-82.

What sort of volunteering work do you do with FoWG?

I guide a Sunday walk around the Brixton Hill area each open weekend and help at open weekends and events. I am a member of the Friends of Windmill Gardens, and a trustee of the charity. I bring some charity and human resources experience to the board and help with the charity’s finances, reconciling the proceeds of our open weekends and events.

How did you get into volunteering with FoWG?

I responded to an advertisement for volunteers in Lambeth Talk.

What is your favourite thing about volunteering?

It’s a good way of staying active in my 70s and a good way to meet people.

What is the one piece of advice you'd give to someone looking to volunteer?

Pace yourself and don’t take on too much!

How do you feel you have benefited from volunteering with FoWG?

I have met some lovely people, learned quite a lot about windmills, and keep discovering new things about the history of the area.

Finally, tell us a surprising fact about the windmill that people may not know.

I am not sure I can do that! But as a geographer, I have wondered why John Ashby chose a site for his windmill halfway up a north-facing hill, when London’s prevailing wind is from the south west!

I also think it’s interesting that he built it in 1816, often described as ‘the year without a summer’. The very cold, wet summer in Europe, caused by climate disruption following the volcanic eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia in 1815, led to failed harvests and terrible hardship in Britain and Ireland.