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Helping hands in the Forest

Helping hands in the Forest


A growing number of people are boosting their health and well-being by volunteering in the beautiful New Forest.

It couldn’t be easier for you to join them in 2020 thanks to the hugely popular New Forest National Park Volunteer Fair.

Now celebrating its 10th year, the fair has welcomed 4,000 people from all walks of life through its doors. The fair is run by the New Forest National Park Authority and gives people living in and around the Forest a chance to learn about local organisations in a relaxed atmosphere.

People can listen to talks and find out about a range of opportunities from practical conservation and studying wildlife, to supporting local communities and even archaeology.

NPA volunteer co-ordinator Richard Austin said: ‘Volunteering gives people the chance to see parts of the New Forest that they haven’t before, all while making new friends, learning about this historic landscape and becoming custodians of it. They can give as much or as little time as they like.’

Organisations exhibiting this year include Exbury Gardens, Highcliffe Castle, Rockbourne Roman Villa, Minstead Trust and New Forest Mencap.

Around 750 people visited the last event, which featured 50 exhibitors and a programme of talks.
Many organisations have exhibited every year since the fair started, including the RSPB, the National Trust and Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust (HIWWT).

Volunteer Anthony Allen, from Dibden Purlieu, has spent 100 hours pulling out non-native invasive plants such as Himalayan balsam as part of a project run by HIWWT. He said: ‘It’s great to wallow in mud with a lovely bunch of folk, knowing that having fun makes such an important difference. As a result of our efforts last year, the riverbank looks like a riverbank again.’

Bishopstoke resident Lesley Hancock, who has racked up a similar number of hours on the same project, said: ‘With all the talk about mental health and keeping active, balsam picking covers both bases as well as helping our environment.’

The volunteer fair takes place on Sunday, January 26, from 10.30am to 4pm at Lyndhurst Community Centre, Lyndhurst SO43 7NY. Entry is free.

Click here for more information on the Volunteer Fair 2020.


Notes to photo editors:

1. Volunteer Lesley Hancock, who has helped pull Himalayan balsam from riverbanks.
2. Pondhead Conservation Trust volunteers John Gardner and Gabby Burns. © Pondhead Conservation Trust

Notes to editors:

Our Past, Our Future

Our Past, Our Future is a Landscape Partnership Scheme for the New Forest which, supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, is undertaking a range of projects to restore lost habitats, develop Forest skills and inspire a new generation to champion and care for the New Forest. The partnership focuses on the enclosed lands which surround the Open Forest.
The five-year scheme includes 21 projects and is being led by the New Forest National Park Authority working with several delivery and funding partners.
For more information about the Our Past, Our Future scheme, visit


Full list of organisations attending in 2020:

Blackwater Conservation Group
Butterfly Conservation
Citizens Advice New Forest
Community First New Forest Volunteer Centre and Healthy Walks
Countryside Education Trust
Exbury Gardens
Fareshare – Southern Central
Forestry England
Fortune College
Friends of Ballard Water Meadow
Friends of Lepe Country Park
Friends of the New Forest
Friends of the New Forest Airfields
Green Island Holiday Trust
Guide Dogs
Hampshire Art for Recreation and Therapy
Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance
Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust
Hampshire Search and Rescue (HANTSAR)
Hampshire Swifts
Highcliffe Castle
Home-Start Hampshire
Honeypot Children’s Charity
Hythe Pier Heritage Association
Keep Britain Tidy
Lyndhurst Community Centre
Lyndhurst & District Community First Responders
Milford Conservation Volunteers
Minstead Trust
Naomi House
National Trust
New Forest Area Conservation Volunteers
New Forest Badger Group
New Forest Disability Information Service
New Forest Mencap
New Forest National Park Authority
New Forest Ninth Centenary Trust/New Forest Heritage Centre
New Forest Non-Native Plants Project
New Horizons Equine Assisted Learning
Oakhaven Hospice
PEDALL Inclusive Cycling
Pondhead Conservation Trust
Ringwood and Bransgore Dementia Action Group
Ringwood and Fordingbridge Footpath Society
Rockbourne Roman Villa
Solent Rescue Independent Lifeboat
Steamship Shieldhall
Testwood Lakes Sailability
Together for mental wellbeing
Warren Copse and Holbury Manor Conservation Group
Woodlander Hoburne Bashley


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 to find out more.

Media Contact:

Lisa Reynolds, Communications Assistant
New Forest National Park Authority
Tel: 01590 646639


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