THE National Trust is on the hunt for volunteers in Dorset.

Guides are needed for its houses and gardens including Thomas Hardy’s birthplace cottage in Higher Bockhampton and his former home, Max Gate, in Dorchester.

Volunteers are also wanted for Clouds Hill in Wareham, the former home of TE Lawrence, and other areas of countryside along the Jurassic Coast.

An open day is being held in Somerset today for those interested.

Volunteer Phil Morgan, 63, helps maintain the grounds at Max Gate, Hardy’s birthplace and Clouds Hill.

He said people shouldn’t hesitate about giving volunteering a go.

Mr Morgan said: “I retired quite early, aged 60, and I moved down to Weymouth looking for two or three days of work. “I have always supported the National Trust and so they were the first people I asked.

“I started at Hardy’s cottage and Clouds Hill and now I’m at Max Gate.

“I feel like it’s a way of putting something back in for the trust and I also get five or six hours of exercise a week. You also get to meet like-minded people.”

He added: “I think anyone should be encouraged to give it a go – they shouldn’t hesitate.

“You don’t need a particular skill, you just need an open mind.”

Richard Watson, the trust’s community learning and volunteering manager for the region, said: “Going along to an open day gives you a chance to ask current volunteers about their day-to-day work and find out whether it’s something for you.

“Volunteering is a great way to enhance your CV, keep your skills up to date and develop new ones.

“Even if you only have a few hours a week to spare, there’ll be something really useful you can do to help the National Trust preserve the very special houses, gardens and countryside areas.”

This year an open day will be held today at Montacute House, Somerset.

For more information please visit the National Trust’s website or contact West Dorset property office on 01297 489481.