The hard work of 24 members of the South Downs Volunteer Ranger Service who have together dedicated more than 280 years to caring for the landscapes of the South Downs National Park is being recognised with special long service awards.
Margaret Paren, Chair of the South Downs National Park Authority, said:
“Long before the South Downs became a National Park these dedicated volunteers were out clearing scrub, hedge laying, coppicing and caring for our landscapes – come rain, wind or sunshine.
“Their hard work has supported local communities, protected archaeological heritage, improved access and supported endangered native species such as the natterjack toad, barn owl and the Duke of Burgundy butterfly. We are all grateful for their contribution and I feel proud to be awarding these long services awards.”
Helena Lewis from Lancing, West Sussex, first became a South Downs Volunteer Ranger in 1990. She regularly volunteers for the National Park across West Sussex. Helena said:
“I found out about the volunteer rangers after stumbling on an advert in my library for a dawn chorus bird walk. More than twenty years on I am still hooked and going out in all weather to cut down scrub, get muddy planting trees and building stiles, coppicing and other very varied tasks.
I get to visit parts of the South Downs I would never normally see, meet experts and learn something new every time and spend the day with people from such varied backgrounds who all have a passion for the countryside. What a wonderful way to spend your free time!”
Phil Luffingham, from Hailsham, has been out working with the South Downs Volunteer Rangers almost every month since October 1991. Phil said:
“I love putting something back into nature, improving habitats for wildlife and making the National Park more accessible for others. It’s great to be working with like minded people, that’s why I became a volunteer in the first place and it still gives me a thrill to be out in the South Downs and giving something back.”
Terry Doyle regularly goes out with the Hampshire volunteers and has been awarded a medal for ten year’s service. Terry said:
“I joined the volunteer rangers after seeing an article in my local newspaper – I thought it would be a useful way of learning how to manage the woodland that my wife and I had recently bought. From the start I have thoroughly enjoyed the companionship, the experience of working outdoors and learning more about where I live as we go about our different tasks.
“This hasn’t changed over ten years – even though we no longer own the woodland. I’ve learned about the reptilian denizens of the Longmoor Ranges, how the arboretum in Alice Holt Forest is managed and how to bring downland back to its prime and I’m now hoping to get more involved with work in the Meon Valley.”
Spaces are currently available for South Downs Volunteer Rangers in Hampshire on Tuesdays and Sundays and in the Brighton area at the weekend. To find out more email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07866 962736.
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