National Volunteer Panel – South East England
Meet the National Volunteer Panel members from the South East of England region…
I live just outside Oxford and cover the South-East region, where my main roles for the Woodland Trust include presenting as part of the Talking Trees programme, helping out with local events and more recently becoming a member of the National Volunteer Panel.
As a wildlife enthusiast and conservationist I am also involved in coordinating local projects: most recently a tree planting initiative at the village school, and a shelter belt which will act as a wildlife corridor and reduce the impact of traffic.
We are very fortunate to have a 25 acre woodland in the family. The focus is on restoring the woodland to 100% native species and increasing biodiversity. It’s a really interesting woodland with a mixture of non-intervention, continuous cover and coppice. In the last six years we have planted over 1000 trees.
My family and I have also set up an eco-glamping business in the woodland (yurts and treehouse). It is has been incredibly rewarding to run a sustainable business and to see families, typically from big cities, stay with us and re-connect with nature.
As an organisation the Woodland Trust shares values that are similar to my own and I am keen to support its work in as many ways as possible. It is for this reason that I am delighted to be involved with the National Volunteer Panel.
David Cruickshank is based in Rye, East Sussex and is a volunteer work leader in Brede Woods. For forty years he worked on Community Regeneration projects in post-industrial communities within deprived areas of Glasgow; this involved transforming vacant and derelict land and buildings into facilities owned and operated by local people. These projects were resourced from a variety of funding sources including Heritage Lottery, Climate Challenge Fund, European Social Fund, NHS Social Prescription pilots, Sustrans, a variety of charitable foundations, Scottish Govt. and local authorities. The underlying objective in all these initiatives is to empower local people to take ownership of their immediate environment, and create Green Spaces and Corridors, activity centres, heritage and cultural hubs, allotments, and regular community events.
He believes passionately in the therapeutic, educational and occupational value of Woodland, Waterways and the development of “Green Jobs and Technologies”; within a programme of sustainable development designed around existing human and natural capital, his overall objective is to create harmony between social, environmental and economic factors. To take these concepts from a theoretical background into a practical and applied community setting is his motivation for volunteering with the Woodland Trust; he decided to become a Panel member in order to be able to influence strategic thinking particularly in relation to such initiatives as the Tree Charter and Big Climate Fightback. Within the context of Mental Health, he believes resources should be made available by means of “Social Prescription”, a process of medical interventions providing occupational opportunities in order to address a wide variety of negative trends, and introduce a positive sense of purpose.
I live in the Horsham area, West Sussex, and so I live in the second most wooded county in the UK and next door to the most wooded county in the UK!
My involvement as a Woodland Trust volunteer began in April 2014, when I decided to take some positive action with regard to the environment and specifically trees, having witnessed the felling of a swathe of mature trees to make way for more housing.
My parents were both horticulturalists, interested in flora and fauna generally and so we were bought up to appreciate the natural world – but I realised as I started thinking about trees, that I wasn’t sure I could identify all of the big five – the ash being the one that eluded me. Ironically it happens to be the most prolific tree in West Sussex and even more ironic that they are now so badly at risk.
As a volunteer Heritage Researcher on the Ancient Woodland Restoration project I wrote heritage reports about ancient woodland and presented to the AWR Project Managers in 2016 and the Staff Conference 2017 about my role as a volunteer on the project. I was also involved in creating the 1st Woodland Trust oral history podcast, based on an interview I carried out, have helped on a Doodlebug dig and written a book!
I was then invited to be an Advisory Member of the Panel who put together the proposal that led to the creation of the National Volunteer Panel – the volunteer’s voice into the Woodland Trust! I look forward to meeting some of you.
Hilary is acting in an advisory role for the new panel and will not be available for day to day queries.
If you would like to contact Richard or David you can email them here: