Volunteer case study: John Newbould

Meet John Newbould, volunteer ecologist for the West Dorset team © National Trust/Zoe Stansfield

Meet John Newbould, volunteer ecologist for the West Dorset team

John Newbould
Volunteer ecologist
West Dorset

I came to the National Trust by chance ten years ago. I'd had an informal request from a senior conservation officer at Natural England to survey Ringmore and Turnworth, and thought I'd better report what I was doing to the National Trust since it cares for the sites.

I've been working for the Trust's West Dorset team ever since.  It's a very happy retirement project for me, having spent all my working life as a community pharmacist. Although my main attachment is here in West Dorset I work across the whole county, anywhere something wants doing.

My role involves making lists of the plants, birds, animals and insects at the special places we look after. I then convert these lists to written reports which are used by the National Trust for bio surveys. A lot of this work enables our tenant farmers to get high-level stewardships. The main aim is to provide our rangers with the data they need to make informed decisions on conservation management.

Other tasks include writing a management plan and occasionally showing visitors particular things. I always talk to people when I'm out doing hedgerow surveys and the like. It's difficult to choose a favourite place that we care for - every place is special for different reasons. The Labour in Vain farmland at West Bexington, for example, has rare arable weeds and birds. Golden Cap has its medieval landscape and a combination of modern and traditional farming.

One of my proudest things is being an honourary member of the National Biodiversity Network Trust. Only two volunteers have this honour. I'm also Secretary for the National Forum for Biological Recording. I must really love what I do because for a holiday I sometimes go and survey for the National Trust's Upper Wharfedale team.

Like me, all the people I work with are volunteers. One thing I'd like to do is train somebody else to do what I do, so when I can no longer walk up Golden Cap the Trust will have somebody else to do it.