As Honorary Warden of Queendown Warren nature reserve for 13 years I consider myself, not only privileged to help look after the reserve and its wildlife, but very fortunate to be working alongside a great bunch of volunteers. A number of volunteers pre date my appointment as Honorary Warden. They come out on Tuesdays in all weather, usually 15 or more, but why this commitment?
My volunteering story
First and foremost they all share a common interest in maintaining and preserving our natural environment and helping Kent Wildlife Trust to manage the site. But it doesn’t end there. There is a feeling of close kinship and friendship. They work hard and enjoy lots of banter and laughs. The volunteers come from all walks of life and are bonded by a passion to look after the natural environment. An indirect bonus is helping to keep fit - cheaper than going to the Gym! As mentioned, many of the volunteers have been associated with the reserve for many years and have gained a wealth of experience and knowledge from fencing to surveys. Over the years they have made a significant input in maintaining the reserve based on the Trust’s management plan for the site. There is no doubt that without the volunteers Kent Wildlife Trust would find it difficult to maintain the site without the greater involvement of staff and contractors and therefore considerable extra cost.
Volunteers come from all walks of life and are bonded by a passion to look after the natural environment
The long term commitment of the volunteers does have its downside, though. We are not getting any younger and we have joked that, in time, we will be arriving on mobility scooters! The answer is to encourage younger folk to join us, pick up the skills and eventually take over from us oldies. The future of volunteering for the Trust, whether joining a Practical Conservation group or helping in other ways, depends on the success in recruiting and retaining young blood. They need to be nurtured, made to feel welcome, trained, and, above all, valued as an important part of the Trust’s operation in conserving and protecting our flora and fauna.
I started volunteering for the Trust 19 years ago painting the outside of Tyland Barn, working in the shop and then working on the reserves in West Kent before moving on as Honorary Warden. I urge anyone reading this to have a go at volunteering, if not already involved. It is such a good cause and you will be meeting with likeminded folk and making friends. How much time you choose to give is up to you. - Selwyn Dennis