New Forest Volunteer Fair hits new heights

New forest nightstop at volunter fair

Published Wednesday 1 February 2017

The New Forest’s popular volunteer fair is celebrating a record breaking year as hundreds flocked to the annual event.

Over 700 people came along looking to change their life through one of the hundreds of roles on offer from 46 local organisations. This was a 40 per cent increase on last year’s event, which is organised each year by the New Forest National Park Authority.

Exhibitors at the 2017 fair included partners from the New Forest’s Our Past, Our Future Landscape Partnership Scheme. The scheme is funded by £2.8m from the Heritage Lottery Fund and aims to conserve the New Forest’s unique heritage, landscape and wildlife for future generations.

Volunteering is integral to the success of Our Past, Our Future, which offers roles as diverse as running a community archaeology group, helping conserve wildlife habitats and guiding Forest walks.

The Volunteer Fair was opened by Brian Matthews, from Lymington, who spent an astonishing 400 hours volunteering in 2016. He was named Project Champion for the New Forest non-native plants project recently at a celebration evening for volunteers in the New Forest.

Brian was joined at the fair by dozens of other groups at Lyndhurst Community Centre on 29 January. They included organisations as diverse as the RNLI, Exbury Gardens, Hampshire Scouts, the Forestry Commission and the National Trust.

Jim Mitchell, fair organiser and New Forest National Park Authority Interpretation Manager, said: ‘We were delighted with how popular the fair was with visitors and exhibitors. It was undoubtedly our busiest and best year yet.

‘The fair is about giving a platform to all the groups in the Forest that are looking for volunteers, bringing them all together in one place at one time to recruit as many new volunteers as possible. We also had our own stall at the event, recruiting helpers for the exciting Landscape Partnership Scheme, which relies heavily on the input of volunteers.’

Catherine Chatters from Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust attended the fair looking for volunteers for her project to remove invasive non-native plants from the countryside. She said: ‘I had even more people signing up to volunteer  with our project than we have done in previous years and once again there was such an encouraging, enthusiastic ‘buzz’ in the air all day.’

If you missed the fair, find your own volunteer role in the New Forest in the 2017 New Forest Volunteer Guide at www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/volunteer.

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Notes to Photo Editor:

Volunteers from New Forest Nightstop at the New Forest Volunteer Fair 2017. The charity offers free emergency overnight accommodation for homeless people.

Notes to Editor:

About the New Forest National Park Authority

Protect - Enjoy - Prosper

The New Forest National Park Authority’s statutory purposes are to:

  • Conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the Park - Protect.
  • Promote opportunities for understanding and enjoyment of its special qualities – Enjoy.

We also have a duty to:

  • Seek to foster the social and economic well-being of local communities within the Park – Prosper.

The New Forest National Park was designated in March 2005. Its unique landscape has been shaped over the centuries by grazing ponies, cattle and pigs which roam free. Majestic woodlands, rare heathland and a spectacular coastline provide fabulous opportunities for quiet recreation, enjoyment and discovery.

Visit www.newforestnpa.gov.uk to find out more.

Media contact:

Matt Stroud, Communications Officer

New Forest National Park Authority

Tel: 01590 646650

Email: matt.stroud@newforestnpa.gov.uk

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