Inspiring leadership at Heartwood – Tim Wright
Woodland Trust volunteers and staff members have come together to thank and praise super Heartwood Forest volunteer Tim Wright.
Counting woodland working group leader as one of his many volunteer roles, Tim is responsible for the coordination of the Woodland Working Group (WWG). He arranges and runs practical work party sessions, welcomes new group members, organises tools and equipment, carries out safety briefings and makes sure the sessions run in a safe way. He works to identify future practical conservation activity which is subsequently included in the site management plan. Further to this, Tim has supported the Woodland Trust during events and guided walks and is also involved in the volunteer wildlife monitoring group which surveys many different species at Heartwood.
Whilst the WWG group was on hold during the COVID pandemic Tim was one of a group of relief wardens, who supported our work on site when we saw a huge increase in visitor numbers. This increase in numbers sadly meant an increase in litter and anti-social behaviour, so the volunteers stepped in to support the existing woodland wardens in assisting with litter picking, repairing damaged areas and keeping paths clear. Tim and the relief wardens at Heartwood achieved the ‘Heroes of Hertfordshire’ award for their work, presented by the High Sheriff of Hertfordshire, which is brilliant and well deserved!
More recently, Tim worked with Luke to organise some planting activities onsite. He arranged 5 days of beating up (replacing failed saplings with new ones) an area designated for timber production on a difficult, stony site with thick grass. The target for the group was to plant 6,000 saplings. Tim ensured the session was run in a COVID safe way, following guidelines and risk assessments. He organised the volunteers into small groups and prepared detailed instructions and maps, showing where each group would be working. The total contribution to the Woodland Trust will be approximately 210 man days of free labour!
All of this was carried out in addition to his usual contribution of organising work parties throughout the year and organising and minuting regular Volunteer Management zoom meetings with Luke and Jess involved.
Brian Legg, fellow volunteer at Heartwood said “Despite the problems of organising voluntary activities during the Covid pandemic Tim has organised, motivated, supervised and personally praised and thanked about 35 volunteers in a very full programme of work in full compliance with Woodland Trust safety requirements. I am aware that you have many excellent volunteers all over the country, but in my experience Tim’s contribution over the last few months has been quite exceptional and worthy of special reward”.
Woodland working group member Rob Mills said “ More like volunteer of the decade, not just the year! Specifically this year, Tim has been even more dedicated (if that is possible) to the task in hand, with all the extra work that has been involved as a result of Covid. This has presented many challenges as Brian has outlined. These have been overcome and allowed significant planting activities to take place, of massive benefit to both the Woodland Trust and the volunteers who gain huge satisfaction from being able to continue their contribution”.
Jenny Wiles, Heartwood volunteer talked about the work that Tim had caried out. “He has worked tirelessly and patiently throughout the last few months, and particularly in recent weeks for the “beating up” programme. The value of what he does for Heartwood is significant, and is underpinned by the deep knowledge of the site and its development since 2009”.
Heartwood Forest is located just outside of St Albans in Hertfordshire and is a 347-hectare (858-acre) site rising from what was once mainly agricultural land. It’s so big that it’s now the largest continuous new native forest in England; a place where everyone can find space, peace, wildlife and miles of beautiful woodland to explore.
Site manager Luke Shenton and Assistant site manager Jess Vagg praised Tim’s efforts “Tim has been instrumental to the success of Heartwood and leading a dedicated team of volunteers who work hard for the Woodland Trust is just one of the many things he does that make Heartwood the special place it is. Thank you Tim, not only do we really enjoy working with you, but we also hugely value all that you do for Heartwood Forest and the Woodland Trust- your efforts are much appreciated.”
Volunteers have been involved every step of the way since the Woodland Trust took on the site more than ten years ago. Tim has provided strong leadership, leading the volunteers to achieve so much during this time. We are truly grateful for Tim’s support, he is always keen to step in and lend a hand to whatever needs to be done at Heartwood. He really goes above and beyond, thank you so much Tim!
Amanda Brookes (VDO Central England) and Brian Legg (Heartwood lead volunteer)
Photo credit – Albert Callewaert (images 1 and 3), Judith Parry (feature image and images 2 and 4)