Oct 21 2021

In the Spotlight – An interview with volunteer, Graeme Aldous

It’s all about the trees… and so much more: staff and volunteers share their nature joys

Today we would like to introduce you to volunteer warden Graeme Aldous


Graeme is lucky enough to be able to keep an eye on two woods: one at each end of Moorsholm, the village he lives in. He also said how pleased he is that ‘his’ woods are not urban fringed, and therefore don’t have the large numbers of visitors some woodlands can have – and don’t have the problems that can sometimes bring.


All the interviews with volunteers so far have produced some lovely tales about their local woods, but perhaps none more poignant than Graeme’s story about his and other volunteers’ creation of a path called Joey’s Way in Hagg Wood in memory of a local boy who died young and loved the wood.


But although there may be less littering, there’s still attention to woodland management needed, and Graeme told me that along with knowing the small community who use the woods, and like all our volunteer wardens, being the local liaison for the area Site Manager, he attends himself to smaller tasks such as moving branches fallen across paths, or repairing step fronts in Hagg Wood, which is very steep sided.


Graeme named his favourite tree as “the archetypal oak… one of three in a field next to Cow Close wood… and it’s just beautiful… a traditional English tree.” He added that in Cow Close itself there was a fallen larch which had continued to grow upward at a 45 degree angle.


“It’s a real character tree,” Graeme added, and we had a little chuckle together about how we loved to just touch trees as we passed them by. A way of saying hello to these woodland ‘characters’.

In Cow Close by Graeme Aldous

Graeme was more general than specific about his other nature favourites, as he said his main joy was in celebrating the diversity of nature. He returned to discussing woodlands – any woodland – and said he often asks himself the question ‘how many growing things are here in this one small wood?’


He did get specific for a moment when he spoke about the simple beauty of a blackbird singing at dawn, then his viewpoint widened again:


“I love it that nature is so big and fantastically wonderful,” he added, “and that there are creatures here who don’t give a damn about me.”


He told me a lovely story about his own apple trees on his smallholding and how he leaves the fallen apples for his hens to eat.


“I watch a creature – a hen, a blackbird, an insect… any creature – eating a fallen apple, and I think, I’m glad I left that apple.”


Well, nature’s creatures may not care too much about Graeme, but how wonderful it is that he cares about them.

Daphne Pleace – Volunteer Whittle Reporter

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