Our National Park Volunteers give their time, energy, skills and enthusiasm to help us conserve and enhance the country's 15 greatest assets and safeguard them for future generations to experience and enjoy.
National Parks UK looks recognize and reward the transformative action made by our dedicated National Park volunteers through our National Parks UK Volunteer Awards. Huge congratulations, and a huge thank you, to all our amazing winners.
Derek has been a volunteer with the Dartmoor Preservation Association since 2004. He's worked on a range of projects, from bracken management clearing ground around ancient scheduled monuments, and the mucky work of clearing water leats. He's even taken on the role of looking after the groups conservation work tools. Derek has attended virtually every conservation work party since 2004 - around 50 per year.
When asked what volunteering gave to him, Derek told of the first time he took a young carers group out into Dartmoor National Park. He remembers how many of the children were fascinated with the different types of animal poo they came across, as many had never been out on the moors before. And how at the end of that day the group had made new friends as well as discovering new experiences in the outdoors. Seeing how National Park landscapes can give so much to other people, is what really makes his volunteering worthwhile.
Caitlin has spent her summer holidays with the education team at the North York Moors National Park. In her words, she gets to turn up, meet a new bunch of children and spend the day playing with them in the outdoors, and who wouldn't love that! Through bug hunts, nature trails and games, she helps them learn about the National Park's wildlife and history, and help get a new generation excited about the outdoors.
When asked her advice for other young people like herself wanting to get involved in volunteering, Caitlin urged everyone to just get involved. Find your nearest Naitonal Park, get in touch and get out there volunteering!
The Cleveland Way Adoption Scheme enables families, scout troops and other groups to 'adopt' a section of the Cleveland Way trail. After being given training and a small set of tools, the adopters do three patrols a year of their section of trail. They do small maintenance jobs themselves, and report bigger jobs back to the National Park. The families and groups really take pride in their sections and often bring out friends to show-off their work and get them involved too!
All 109 miles of the Cleveland Way are now adpoted, and its in better shape than ever thanks to the regular patrols of the adopters. The groups really get to know their section well, and enjoy seeing how the scenery and wildlife changes through the year.
The group is made up of individuals from BME (black and minority ethnic) communities who live in urban conurbations around the Peak District National Park. They give their time to mentor, increase confidence and encourage people from BME communities and those who have challenging social and community issues to access the Peak District National Park. Their aim is to help improve the health and wellbeing of the individuals who take part and encourage them to become mentors to people in similar circumstances. They do this by organizing visits and activities that are fun, but also develop knowledge, skills and new friendships.
Yvonne Witter who runs the project, says the most rewarding part is when people see other people doing things in the National Park that they'd never seen before, like rock climbing, and want to have a go. Enabling those people to come back and take part in a new activity and a new way to connect with the landscape is a wonderful thing to be involved with.