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Volunteers share stories of a one-legged landlady and an elephant caterpillar at awards evening

Over 50 people attended a special awards evening in the New Forest last week to celebrate the hard work of volunteers supporting a unique four year landscape partnership scheme.

Over 9,000 volunteer hours were clocked up by over 500 volunteers in 2016 as part of the Heritage Lottery funded Our Past, Our Future scheme, led by the New Forest National Park Authority and 10 key partners.

The first of its kind, the evening was a chance for volunteers to find out what else is going on around the Forest and share their experiences. Special mentions included one volunteer who had contributed a staggering 400 hours of volunteering time and 18 others who had volunteered over 100 hours each.

The celebrations brought together staff from seven organisations across the Forest, including the National Park Authority, National Trust, Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, New Forest Centre, Commoners Defence Association, Freshwater Habitats Trust and New Forest Land Advice Service.

Project officers within the scheme surprised their volunteers by choosing a volunteer champion, highlighting someone who has been an invaluable asset to their work over the past year. The winners received a box of chocolates from local producer Beaulieu Chocolate Studio, and every volunteer received a certificate and badge as a thank you.

Short presentations by project officers shared fascinating facts and strange discoveries from projects so far. These included the story of Liz Emery, the one-legged landlady of the Sir Walter Tyrrell pub in Canterton, who locals said ‘served up a good pint’. This discovery came from an oral history recording taken as part of the Through Our Ancestors’ Eyes project, which is recording and cataloguing the unique commoning history of the Forest through digitising photos, recordings and other documents.

Elephant hawk moth caterpillar photo 3 1 (Image credit: Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust).

Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust shared their exciting spot of an elephant hawk moth caterpillar (above), over 5cm long, whilst clearing non-native invasive plants along Avon Water.

Paul Kelly, aged 59 from Langley, was awarded volunteer champion for his work with the National Park Authority’s archaeologists. Paul worked for Ordnance Survey for 35 years, retiring in 2010, and he said: ‘As a volunteer you have flexibility in what you participate in and the benefit of very personable and knowledgeable team leaders. You make a positive contribution and also learn a great deal.

‘Hearing about the practical conservation and monitoring work done by different groups was fascinating and made for an entertaining and enjoyable evening - thank you to all concerned!’

New Forest National Park Authority Chief Executive Alison Barnes said: ‘It was a wonderfully uplifting event, showcasing the brilliant work of the Forest’s hard-working volunteers. Without their help the Forest wouldn’t look how it does today and we hope to continue to grow our volunteer force throughout 2017, starting with our annual Volunteer Fair this Sunday.’

If you’re interested in finding out more about volunteering in the Forest, then why not visit the annual New Forest Volunteer Fair? This year’s event takes place this Sunday (29 January) from 10.30am until 4pm at Lyndhurst Community Centre. Nearly 50 organisations will be there, including the National Park Authority, the Forestry Commission and Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust.

Find out more at www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/volunteerfair.

But don’t worry if you can’t make the Fair, you can still get involved with any of the projects in the Our Past, Our Future scheme. Find out more at www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/landscapepartnership.

Or contact Volunteer, Training and Mentoring Co-ordinator, Richard Austin, on 01590 646661or by email at richard.austin@newforestnpa.gov.uk.

This entry was posted by Communications on Thursday 26/01/2017

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