‘The Office’

Jennifer Pressnell

Life here in the Centre Office is never dull.  There’s such a variety of stuff happening that no two days are the same.  This is what keeps me coming to work day after day.

I live half an hour’s drive away from The Office, and usually stop for a walk on my way in.  I’m so lucky to have the Forest, and also the coast in the New Forest National Park, for my exercise. By the time I get into work I’ve walked most of my 10,000 steps and set up my head for the day.  Today I was privileged enough to watch a large stag with antlers so big it’s a wonder he could hold his head up.

We are a small, friendly bunch here.  As there are so few of us we all need to roll up our sleeves and deal with the unexpected.  Much as I love spreadsheets I’m rarely able to complete the task!  My assistance may be needed in the shop, a colleague may need my input, or our website might need updating.  After 30 years in the workplace it’s the first place I’ve felt truly at home.

I’m constantly amazed at the incredible information in the reference library.  I love it when the team come across really old maps of the Forest, or posters from bygone times.  For instance, when the New Forest Show was approaching, we were able to post on social media the cover of an official show catalogue from 1934. Unbelievable, how we can use modern media to showcase really old information.

I take my hat off to the education team.  They have such detailed knowledge of the New Forest, its people and places, and they can impart this to anyone aged two to 92.  They lead sessions here at the Centre, out on the Forest, and even at the Verderers’ Court.  Participants get to see behind the scenes of this ancient institution with exclusive access.  There’s no way that I could do what the education guys do.

And our wonderful, ever-willing volunteers!  What can I say?  They give their time and their expertise and without them we couldn’t operate this place. Thanks to each and every one of them.

I’ve learned so much about the New Forest since I’ve been here.  Who knew that pannage is letting the pigs out to eat the acorns that otherwise would make the iconic New Forest Ponies sick?  I didn’t, until five years ago.  What about the ponies’ tails?  They’re cut in a particular way to show that their owners, the Commoners, have paid their fees.  To find out more about commoning, visit https://www.realnewforest.org/about/.

I’m really looking forward to the next few years.  I can’t wait to see what the future brings!