Simon's Blog - Volunteers
The Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty hosted an event this week to celebrate and thank volunteers that work tirelessly to conserve and enhance the natural beauty of the designated landscapes.
The event was due to start at 6:30pm and there were plenty of nervous looks out of the office window, the Beast from the East was delivering the predicted cold weather and snow. Would any of the volunteers be able or indeed willing to get to the event on such an evening.
Experience should have told me not to fret. These people are fantastic and sub-zero temperatures and a bit of snow on the ground would not deter them. We had a great evening, with food laid on by the Di from the Boathouse café in Bawdsey and after a warm welcome from Cllr David Wood, chairman of the Suffolk Coast & Heaths AONB we settled in to watch the fabulous film ‘Life on the Deben’.
Watching the film and reflecting on the people around me made me realise what a wonderful thing people do when they volunteer. The obvious benefits are improving wildlife habitats, geological sites and public access. There are many other benefits too, the volunteers themselves learn new skills, maintain their mental and physical health, meet new people, give something back, visit fabulous places.
The list above sounds a bit like one of our grant bids, but the reality is that volunteers do wonderful work that benefits not only the outstanding landscapes but their lives too.
There are countless opportunities to volunteer, not just in the environment sector but many other areas too. I have just joined a group in my local community associated with an old orchard site and I am already benefiting from it, as I hope is the orchard.
So, a final thank you to all volunteers in the AONBs. Whether you are working on our Long Distance Routes, working on wildlife projects, improving access, learning new skills as a volunteer placement or helping us with events and rangering we salute you. You really do help conserve and enhance natural beauty in the outstanding landscapes.
First published in the East Anglian Daily Times on 3 March 2018