Appeal for more volunteers to join Durham Wildlife Trust

Darlington and Stockton Times: A group of Trust volunteers at a recent water vole training day with Michael Rogers, DWT's Living Waterways - Diffuse Pollution Coordinator. A group of Trust volunteers at a recent water vole training day with Michael Rogers, DWT's Living Waterways - Diffuse Pollution Coordinator.

DURHAM Wildlife Trust’s volunteers have carried out more than 4,800 days of work on the organisation’s 25 nature reserves in the past year.

Now, the organisation, which already has more than 250 volunteers, is staging two open days in January in an attempt to recruit more people to the task force. 

Mark Richardson, Reserves Manager, said: “Our volunteers commit an amazing amount of personal time to help manage habitats for wildlife and access for people across our nature reserves.”

Tasks can be varied and include reserve management from restoration of woodland and grassland, path maintenance, fence installation and repair, stream clearing and species management - for example clearing of non-native flora - to looking after the new ponies planned for DWT’s Raisby Hill location.

Anyone with a reasonable level of fitness can take part in the tasks and no previous experience is required.

You don’t have to be working outside to be a volunteer. DWT has a number of people who offer invaluable support in its visitor centres, coffee shops and offices.

Maurice Foster, a regular volunteer from DWT’s Rainton Meadows reserve, at Houghton-le-Spring, said: “I really enjoy being a volunteer in the coffee shop and visitor centre at Rainton Meadows because I have a great interest in wildlife and enjoy delivering good customer service. Coming here allows me to do both.

“I enjoy the wide variety of tasks involved and, since I started almost two years ago, I have learned a lot more about our local wildlife.

"I really enjoy working with all the other staff and volunteers, who are very friendly and helpful. It’s great to learn new things every time I am there and, if I can, pass that knowledge onto other people.”

Ann Kelly, who volunteers in the office at DWT’s Low Barns reserve and visitor centre at Witton le Wear, said: “As a newbie to Durham, I came from Kent, I settled into volunteering for DWT as soon as possible as I’ve always had an enthusiasm and interest in ‘countryside’.

“I wasn't aiming for a CV boost, though my volunteering has helped me with finding employment in the county - for the Limestone Landscapes Project. 

"Helping in the office and doing Saturday tasks with the Low Barns Team has helped me to get familiar with County Durham and I’ve made new friends. 

"Volunteering has really helped me settle in and given me a focus.”

DWT’s volunteers also benefit from lots of training opportunities, wildlife trips and a twice-yearly volunteer newsletter.

DWT is encouraging anyone interested in volunteer work to come along to the open days organised at their Low Barns visitor centre in Witton-le-Wear on Friday, January 10 and Saturday, January 11.

DWT staff and volunteers will be on hand for a chat and to share stories about volunteer work from 9am to 6pm on Friday and from 9am to 4pm on Saturday.

For more information, contact Craig Best or Graeme Middleton on 01388-488728 or email lowbarnsvolunteers@durhamwt.co.uk or visit the DWT’s website http://www.durhamwt.co.uk/get-involved/

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