New Forest project triumphs in UK volunteer awards

Pondhead Conservation Trust

Published Thursday 19 January 2017

The winners of the UK National Parks Volunteer Awards have been announced and Pondhead Conservation Trust, Lyndhurst, has been named best project.

The annual awards give recognition and thanks to all the volunteers who work hard, helping protect the special landscapes of Britain’s 15 National Parks each year.

Volunteers from the local community have successfully created and are managing the New Forest’s first community woodland as part of the Pondhead Conservation Trust. The once overgrown hazel woodland has been restored to its former glory and is now fully sustainable through the production and sales of charcoal.

Pondhead Conservation Trust will be at the New Forest's annual Volunteer Fair on Sunday 29 January, looking for more volunteers to join the project. Over 40 organisations will be there, including the Forestry Commission, Hampshire Ornithological Society, The National Trust, Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust and more.

Organised by the New Forest National Park Authority, the Volunteer Fair is free and takes place at Lyndhurst Community Centre from 10.30am until 4pm. Find out more at www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/volunteerfair.

Derek Tippetts, Trustee and Honorary Treasurer at Pondhead Conservation Trust said: 'We were delighted to hear that we had won the National Parks UK Volunteer Project Award. It is a fitting recognition for all our volunteers who have worked so hard on this community woodland restoration project. Since our first conservation event in October 2014 they have provided nearly 7000 volunteer hours and the difference they have made is clear for all to see. Not only has it enhanced the woodland wildlife habitat, it has also greatly improved its amenity value for the local population.'

Both the individual and group category awards for this year went to volunteers from the Brecon Beacons National Park.

Jo Minihane (below), has won the Individual award category after volunteering in the Brecon Beacons National Park in South Wales for around 18 months. In that time Jo has undertaken a wide range of volunteer roles including practical work carrying out footpath repairs and ground maintenance work as well as project work with a local MIND eco group.

1 Individual award winner jo minihane brecon beacons national park 1
He said: 'I am volunteering up to seven days a week but to me this is not work. I enjoy the different experiences and varied projects immensely and always look for a new opportunity. Every day is different and I have learned so much. The people I meet are wonderful and I will continue my life as a volunteer for as long as possible.'

Jo is a strong testament to the incredible benefits of volunteering and he also wins £100 worth of outdoor equipment.

Highly commended in the Individual category was Graham Ryan from Northumberland National Park for his invaluable contribution to helping protect the Vindolonda Excavations for over a decade.

Also from the Brecon Beacons National Park, the Nepalese Community Footpath Group (below) were the Group award category winners. The group are recognized for the incredible work they carried out to restore a footpath in their home town of Brecon.

2 Group award winners the nepalese community footpath group at work in
Television presenter Julia Bradbury has served as a judge for the Volunteer Awards since their inception and is well known for her love and support of the outdoors. She said: 'Having restored a footpath along the River Usk, the Brecon Nepalese Community has worked to make the area accessible again to both locals and visitors. A multi-cultural community working at it's very best - this is an inspiring example of a community convergence driving to maintain the condition of their environment for everyone to enjoy. I know many other people will agree that the work done here is absolutely fabulous.'

Gurung Guptaman, Volunteer Coordinator from the Brecon Nepalese Society said: 'It is a huge honour and privilege for me and the Nepalese community that our hard work has been recognised with such an award. We started the project with a simple objective in mind and that was to help us integrate into the local community. We never imagined receiving this kind of recognition or getting awards. I am sure the whole community will be overwhelmed with the breaking news and it will motivate us further for bigger and better projects in the future.'

Every year the Volunteer Awards, which are supported by Natural Resources Wales, highlight the wonderful things people do to help look after Britain’s Breathing Spaces. The Group and Project award winners will both receive a £1000 bursary to go towards continuing that fantastic work.

To find out more about volunteering and how you can get involved within your National Park visit www.nationalparks.gov.uk/about-us/jobs-and-volunteering

-ends-

Notes to Photo Editor:

Award winners Perry Bond, Derek Tippetts and Dave Dibden from The Pondhead Conservation Trust.

Notes to Editors:

Photographs © NationalParksUK

  1. Individual Award winner, Jo Minihane, Brecon Beacons National Park
  2. Group Award winners -The Nepalese Community Footpath Group at work in the Brecon Beacons National Park.

This release has been issued on behalf of National Parks UK for whom the contact is Kathryn Cook, UK Director,  kathryn.cook@nationalparks.gov.uk

For further details about the individual National Parks contact:

Brecon Beacons National Park Authority: clarissa.price@beacons-npa.gov.uk

New Forest National Park Authority: press@newforestnpa.gov.uk

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