Overview of the role
Sheldon has 45 acres of gardens, grounds and woodlands, plus a cluster of new and restored buildings housing up to 50 guests. The purpose is to provide a restful environment for guests to explore and enjoy. Estate Manager is a newly created post bringing together previously separate responsibilities of care for the grounds, amenity/decorative gardening, general maintenance/repairs of the buildings and co-ordination of work by trades such as electricians, plumbers and builders. There will be some office based work but we anticipate that three quarters of your time will be spent in practical, mostly outdoor, tasks.
Your line manager will be the Warden. You will collaborate with other members of the Community, especially department heads, for the smooth running of Sheldon to benefit guests. You will supervise paid staff (currently Barry Green who works 2 days/week and Nick Beighton 1 day/week. Kerry Cook also assists with amenity gardening. You will continue to develop a team with a good mix of skills and who work together sufficiently often to enable 2 or 3-handed tasks and larger projects to be carried out safely. As the role is being created from parts of other roles, your initial training will be with Carl Lee (Founder and Lay Chaplain looking to eventually hand on overall responsibility for the Estate team), Simon Lee (Senior Estate Worker, 6 days/month), Rhian Lane (responsible for amenity gardening until she leaves in 2020), Andrew Lane (responsible for trades and basic DIY on buildings until he leaves in 2020). You will also collaborate with Hillary Hanson who will continue to have responsibility for the vegetable garden and our flock of sheep. Regular workparties involve teams of volunteers to be deployed effectively.
How the role looks day to day
Planning your work will revolve around considerations such as the weather forecast, carrying out noisy jobs when guest occupancy is lowest, prompt repairs to guest facilities with minimum disruption to guests, etc. You will plan the majority of your work ahead in a seasonal pattern such as grass mowing, strimming and weeding in the spring and summer, leaf blowing and border cleaning in the autumn, maintenance of trees, hedges, hard landscaping and gutters in the winter. There are quirky things like preparing the open air theatre for concerts or putting up a small marquee for an event. Changeover days are when breakages and repairs most often come to light and may need dealing with quickly. We have invested heavily in better work facilities, machinery and equipment for the Estate team over recent years. You would have responsibilities in any future construction projects and manage many of the smaller projects that emerge (eg we are currently installing a diesel tank, replacing a bridge with a culvert and renovating 2 shower rooms). You inherit a site and buildings in good condition and the support of an experienced team around you.
This role could be characterised as 'jack of all trades and master of some'. You are likely to be capable with most, but probably not all, of the following
- Small toolbox for minor running repairs. Working out what's wrong then fixing or booking trades, ordering parts, etc
- Garden hand tools and greenhouse. Cultivating, weeding, pruning, etc
- Workshop electrical tools. Basic workshop fabrication using drill, saw, sander, etc.
- Small garden machinery such as strimmer, hedgetrimmer and lawnmower for care of lawns, banks, hedges, etc
- Safe use and care of smallholder vehicles such as RTV, ride on mower and compact tractor
- General building tasks such as cement mixing, block laying, painting and decorating, etc
- Perhaps specialist (certificated) skills such as chainsaw
- Safe use of chemicals such as weedkillers
You will need practical day to day computer skills especially Outlook (emails and calendars) and Word, internet, plus basic use of Excel in order to manage your own task list, collaborate with colleagues, keep records, do research, order from suppliers, etc.
About you and your experience
You might have previous experience running a smallholding or farm, or perhaps a role such as a National Trust ranger or other retreat centre. Practical experience will count for more than academic qualifications, but you will need to have or gain certification for tasks where safety legislation requires. Your ability to plan and organise and to get the best out of team members is as important as your own hands-on skills. You enjoy working outdoors in most weathers and have the physical strength and stamina to sustain an active and practical lifestyle.