Volunteer profile: meet Ian Chilton

a man in a grey fleece holds a hammer and a crowbar whilst kneeling on a wooden bridge

Ian Chilton joined the ranger team at Blakeney National Nature Reserve as a volunteer in 2018; here is his story.

Name: Ian Chilton

Career background: Professional Engineer

How long have you volunteered with the National Trust? Since January 2018.

Volunteer role(s): Volunteer Ranger, Little Tern Ranger and Seal Ranger, Blakeney National Nature Reserve

What do you get up to as a volunteer? My regular weekly role is to assist the National Trust Rangers in their duties in and around Blakeney Point. Examples include, general handy man roles, installing/building benches, repairing foot bridges, painting fencing, cleaning out/servicing water troughs, tree management, fencing, ground/scrub clearance. Special seasonal roles include Seals Watch (Nov/Jan) and Little Terns Watch (May/July).

Volunteer Ranger Ian Chilton assisting with putting up fencing to help minimise disturbance to nesting Little Terns
a man holds a large stone that he is using as a hammer to put in a metal stake he is holding with his other hand
Volunteer Ranger Ian Chilton assisting with putting up fencing to help minimise disturbance to nesting Little Terns

Why did you start volunteering with the National Trust? I started in order to learn more about the North Norfolk area, and the natural history of my local environment, it's bird, flora and fauna and to develop an understanding of the ecological role of the Trust and of course to develop a social network during my retirement years.

What do you enjoy most about volunteering with the National Trust? Being outside in such a wonderful environment as the North Norfolk coast, helping the National Trust team that takes such pride in it’s role to conserve and protect the area. Having opportunities to improve the facilities for the public to enjoy during their time on “our patch”. I must also mention the knowledge, commitment and enthusiasm of the Blakeney National Trust team and their very inclusive approach to me as a volunteer, I am never once treated as an outsider by the team.

Volunteer Ian Chilton (second from right) joins the ranger team to help install a memorial bench at Stiffkey Saltmarshes
four men sitting on a wooden bench
Volunteer Ian Chilton (second from right) joins the ranger team to help install a memorial bench at Stiffkey Saltmarshes

Most special volunteering moment: I have to report two moments. Firstly being on Blakeney Freshes, clearing water troughs and seeing right next to myself and the ranger a redshank nest with eggs, whilst on the bank in the distance bird watchers looked on through their expensive scopes. There was I just a metre away…a magic moment.

Blakeney Freshes is an important freshwater habitat on the North Norfolk Coast.
colourful pink foxglove flowers in the foreground and expansive green grassy fields in the background
Blakeney Freshes is an important freshwater habitat on the North Norfolk Coast.

Secondly, during the seal watch on one very wet windy Sunday watching bull seals water skiing down the sodden rain soaked slopes on Blakeney Point…again a magic moment.

Favourite National Trust place and why: Got to be Blakeney Point, at any time of the year summer, winter and any weather, wind, rain or shine. It’s such a privilege to spend time at that place.


Ian Chilton
22nd May 2019

Blakeney Point at sunset
Blakeney Point in the Autumn sunlight showing lots of golden reds and browns
Blakeney Point at sunset