There are many reasons why our fantastic band of volunteers turn out in all weathers to lend a helping hand in the Forest. Last year our volunteers spent an incredible 5,864 hours helping us with all aspects of creating and managing the Forest, including tree planting, wildlife surveying and assisting with our education programmes.
We caught up with Bob to find out about his personal motivation for spending a day a week volunteering with us.
What prompted you to volunteer with the Heart of England Forest?
I was moving towards retirement and winding down my work as a self-employed automotive electrical engineer. We have some friends who had been volunteering for a while and they recommended it. Since my wife and I enjoy walking and the countryside so much, volunteering in the Forest seemed ideal and offered the chance to help plant a legacy for the future.
What do you get out of it?
Well, I confess that sometimes we do get wet and dirty and I ask myself why I’m doing it! But it beats being in an office when you’re out in the sunshine with blue skies, fresh air and wildlife all around you, meeting people and doing something that really counts. It’s thoroughly enjoyable. I’m also very keen to try and consider my carbon footprint as part of my daily life, so this goes some way towards that too.
What does an average day’s volunteering entail?
There’s no obligation to do any more than whatever suits you and there’s plenty of variety. Some people can spare a half day here and there while others do more, and there are tasks suited to all abilities. We usually meet at around 9.30 am, and after a quick cuppa we’ll get to work. One day it may be tree planting and the next it may be tending saplings at the tree nursery or clearing brambles. While some finish at lunchtime, the short winter days mean we all have to pack up at around 3.30 pm.
What are your hopes for the future?
I love British woodland and broadleaf trees. This is such a worthwhile charity and it’s great to be helping the Forest grow, so I’d love to get more involved. I’ve been keen on butterflies since my youth, so I’ve signed up for butterfly and dragonfly survey training days, and I am interested in learning more about the bat boxes and amphibians around the woodland.
What advice would you give anyone thinking of becoming a volunteer?
Come and give it a go! If you’re the sort of person who likes to get out and do things as part of a team, you’ll find everyone very friendly and welcoming. If you like to learn, it’s a great way to improve your understanding of the Forest and its wildlife, and, of course, it’s just so worthwhile.
Join Bob and our band of volunteers
With opportunities to get hands on in the Forest, record and monitor wildlife, help with office tasks and at events, there are lots of opportunities to give your time and help us grow the Forest. Find out more about volunteering.