Record numbers visit New Forest National Park Volunteer FairPUBLISHED ON: 31 JANUARY 2023
Hundreds of people looking for ways to help the New Forest and its communities turned out at a record-breaking Volunteer Fair this weekend.
The popular Fair, organised by the New Forest National Park Authority, was back as an in-person event for the first time in three years. Held at Brockenhurst Village Hall on Sunday (29 January), it attracted more than 920 budding volunteers – the largest number in the event’s 13-year history.
People of all ages and abilities learned more about hundreds of volunteering opportunities on offer from 45 organisations in and around the New Forest. Freshwater Habitats Trust, Forestry England, PEDALL inclusive cycling, and the New Forest Agricultural Show Society were at the Fair alongside Hampshire Search and Rescue, New Forest Sailability and Highcliffe Castle.
The event gives a platform for organisations to look for volunteers, bringing them all together in one place at one time to find as many new volunteers as possible. Visitors could chat to representatives from different groups about volunteering roles in history, culture, arts, climate and nature recovery, and helping local communities. There was also a series of well-attended talks throughout the day.
The Fair was officially opened by Sir Julian Lewis MP, together with CEO of the New Forest National Park Authority Alison Barnes, and guide dog puppy in training Aretha with handlers Sharon and Simon from Guide Dogs UK.
Sir Julian said: ‘The New Forest Volunteer Fair is one of my favourite diary events. It’s wonderful and brings so many of the most helpful people in our community together in one place at the same time. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the Fair and spending time talking to all the different organisations.’
Fair organiser Jim Mitchell from the New Forest National Park Authority said: ‘It was fantastic to welcome people in person to the Volunteer Fair for the first time in three years, and to see a record number of people looking for volunteer roles. It was also really encouraging to see a more diverse audience this year, with many visitors under the age of 25.’
He added: Volunteering is a fulfilling and satisfying way to spend your spare time, helping other people while making new friends and learning new skills.
‘We’d like to thank everyone involved in this year’s Fair and for helping make it such a success.’
If you missed the Fair, information on volunteering can be found on the NFNPA website at www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/volunteering.
To keep up to date with news about the Fair and the New Forest National Park, sign up to the free email newsletter at www.newforestnpa.gov.uk.