As a group from the Faculty of Arts, Computing, Engineering and Sciences at Sheffield Hallam University, we volunteered as part of our Faculty’s volunteering programme. This programme has the aim of “enhancing working relationships between colleagues in different parts of the Faculty”. We were a disparate group of administrative, technical and academic staff. We all vaguely knew each other but none of us were in the same team, so this presented a great opportunity to get to know others in different roles.
We all felt that volunteering to work with the National Trust would a challenge and might mean an uncomfortable day! We didn’t know where we would be, what we would be doing, if it would rain, if it would blow a gale or generally be British August weather. We met with the Peak Park Rangers at the end of Ladybower Reservoir and piled into two Land Rovers. After driving along the side of the reservoir it became clear why we needed Land Rovers; we turned up the side of the valley, and then up a muddy dirt track where nothing else would be able to go. We drove along the top of the valley with stunning views over the Peak District. Once we were at the site we were taken through our task for the day. This was to put up fencing to replace old fencing that was protecting an area from sheep who, we were told, can do a great deal of damage to areas that are being regenerated. Our job was to dig holes to put some new posts in. This doesn’t sound too hard but there are so many buried rocks it is a slow job. After a few minutes of trying to keep clean we all gave up and just got mucky while digging the holes. As we worked, we chatted and got to know the others in our group – one of our aims.
Once the holes were dug, we put in the posts, packed rocks and earth around the base of them and then stood back to admire our work. Following a much-needed lunch we put wire-mesh fencing onto posts that had already been put up (by a previous group of volunteers?). This involved a lot of hammering of staples into wooden poles and tensioning the wire. The end result looked good and the photo is of us looking pleased with ourselves after completing it.
Overall, we had a wonderful day, got to know a great group of colleagues and felt we had put something back into a part of the countryside we all love. I think we would all be happy to do it again...
Bob G Harris