A Thank You to all of our North England Volunteers
I would like to take this opportunity during Volunteers Week to extend our grateful thanks to each and every one of you who support us in our cause across the North of England region
Spring is my favourite time in the woods. I certainly don’t need any excuses to get out, but I used my first face-to-face team meeting in over a year as one, when I recently brought key team members together for a walk and talk around the stunning Hackfall. Like many of our woods it’s cared for with the help of some committed volunteers, and it’s why I’m so pleased that our practical groups are now all back up and running – doing what they enjoy and what we value enormously – thank you. Our group leaders in particular have been patient and supportive in helping us navigate our way through the myriad of restrictions to ensure we can operate in a Covid safe way. You’ve done an amazing job and a huge thank you to you in helping support our management of sites despite all the hurdles and challenges thrown our way.
The groups are building on the committed work of our voluntary wardens who have done sterling work being our eyes an ears and helping keeping our key sites ticking over very nicely during lockdown. Whilst it has been great to welcome lots of new visitors, there’s been some unhelpful challenges too, so we do appreciate all your hard work in keeping our sites clean, safe and welcoming for our visitors during what has been the busiest time we have ever experienced. We are aware many of you work tirelessly on the ground helping to support us, and a very big thank you to you all.
Our continued challenges over the last 12 months has meant lots of frustrations, internally and externally. I thank you for your patience and understanding during these exceptional times.
One of the positive outcomes of these recent circumstances has been the delivery of our extensive virtual talks and learning events programme. Many of you have volunteered to support us in delivering this, and a special thank you goes to these individuals for their support in keeping us all connected in the Covid world we have been living through, as well as speakers who have continued to adapt and give talks via Zoom through this period.
We’ve all had to adapt and embrace a more virtual world, and despite its drawbacks it has also brought many benefits; connecting people together across a wide geographical area and allowing new connections and relationships to be developed and grown, as well as allowing so many more of you to access some of our opportunities. We hope to continue with a combination of virtual and face to face events going forward to make the most of these benefits.
Thanks to those of you who have continued your volunteer roles at home and online during this period, including historical researchers, who have spent many hours collating information and articles on the history of sites in our region, including Smithills and in the NE. This will help to bring the Estate to life for our visitors through our interpretation work onsite. A brilliant effort!
Online is good…. but we are so much looking forward to when we can resume our woodland events programme once more and are looking forward to seeing you and welcoming you back. Thanks to all of our guided walk leaders, event leaders and volunteers who have stuck with us throughout despite the fact we’ve only been able to run very few events.
So as we look to celebrate Volunteers Week, I wanted to thank each and every one of you, who has continued to support us and our work, whether it be by supporting our campaigns, undertaking research, survey work or monitoring, recording ancient trees, taking photos of our sites, whatever… We have much to look forward to – an ambitious next phase of our Northern Forest, stunning new acquisitions, some superb new staff, and exciting partnerships emerging, all in the backdrop of the governments recently launched England Trees Action Plan – committing to a tripling of woodland creation in England. I don’t think there’s ever been a more exciting or important time for woods and trees. I look forward to us working together to make a difference.
Al Crosby, Regional Director, Northern England