Being part of something special
Volunteering with the National Trust has proven to be one of the highlights of retirement.
As a member of the Wednesday Northumberland Coast volunteer group, I have helped with all manner of practical jobs from hedge laying and coppicing to fencing and control of invasive species all along the Northumbrian coast.
That alone would be pleasure enough but when you add in a great group of fellow volunteers, and the brilliant, supportive Ranger team, it’s an irresistible mix.
Earlier this year the rangers were looking for additional volunteers to help out at the Long Nanny. It’s a mixture of sand dunes, salt marsh and shingle, bordered by a small burn.
In the spring rare Little Terns arrive to nest and are joined by Arctic Terns and Ringed Plovers.
My interests outside of work have always been about landscape and the natural world – and with a particular interest in birds, volunteering at Long Nanny seems like a great idea.
The Trust employs a full time team of seasonal rangers at Long Nanny. They spend three months camping on site. It’s their job to monitor and study the terns, protect them from disturbance and from being attacked by predators or their nests being washed away by the tides.
The camping looks like good fun, but I think I might be getting a bit old for it!
Instead I spend my Tuesdays welcoming visitors to the site, enabling the Rangers to concentrate on the job of protecting and studying the terns.
We have a viewing platform right next to an arctic tern nesting area and a telescope set up so visitors can see the Little Terns close at hand.
To anyone considering volunteering I’d tell them: don’t hesitate - do it. You won’t be disappointed.
I’ve made friends, learnt new skills, and spend my time outdoors in fantastic locations doing worthwhile front-line conservation with a great bunch of people. I can’t think why anyone wouldn’t want to do that.