Warden Spotlight: Helen and David at Coed Ffos Las
I recently met up with Helen and one of her many dogs on her patch at Coed Ffos Las.
Coed Ffos Las is a young woodland bursting into life, planted on the slopes of the Gwendraeth Valley as a memorial to lives lost in the First World War. The Woodland Trust purchased the site near Llanelli in 2014. As part of the Centenary Woods project, we planted 90,000 trees to create a new haven for wildlife. The centenary wood tells the stories of the First World War and the vital role woods and trees played during this conflict, marked by a commemorative feature and interpretive trail across the site.
Helen Simmonds and her husband David, have been volunteer wardens at the site for two years. When they first moved to the area three years ago they were completely new with no existing contacts in the area. Now people know them and their role at the woods and people really appreciate them. They have eight adopted rescue dogs who roam the woodland with them every day.
“I bumped into the site manager and asked him if I could close the gate in the evenings as the car park was attracting anti-social behaviour such as litter, and worse! Chris suggested I could be a volunteer warden and I gladly accepted as I’m there at least twice a day with the dogs.” Says Helen.
As wardens, the pair acts as custodians for the site. As well as opening and closing the car park gate and picking up litter, they often engage with other visitors to the site, sharing their knowledge and passion for the woodland and the wildlife it supports. People from the local village, and those from further afield, are still discovering the site and meeting our dedicated wardens is part of the experience.
“The task of opening and closing the gate for the car park is very important for the site. When the car park was left open there were issues with unsavoury behaviour. Restricting access helped curb these issues.” says Chris Matts the Site Manager, “Plus our wardens help educate visitors about the ground nesting birds on the site and the need for dogs to be on a lead.”
Find out how to get to Coed Ffos Las here: https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/visiting-woods/woods/coed-ffos-las/
Written by Martha Boalch, Wales Volunteer Development Officer.
With thanks to Helen and David Simmonds, Woodland Warden volunteers and Chris Matts, Site Manager for South West Wales.