Volunteer of the Year awards

Volunteer of the Year awards 2021

Big Pool Wood volunteers © NWWT

Three cheers for our volunteers! 

Every year we pay tribute to volunteers who have made a particularly outstanding contribution to our work. We’re incredibly grateful to all of our volunteers – we only wish we could single everyone out for individual mention!

Gold Badge, the highest recognition we can bestow, has been awarded to two exceptional volunteers – Ian Dunsire and Julia Aspden

Ian Dunsire

Ian Dunsire

Ian Dunsire

Ian responded to our advertisement seeking a new Treasurer at a time when we weren’t confident that we would receive any appropriate response.  It soon transpired that we had struck gold, as Ian has huge experience in banking and interim management that has been put to very good use in the Trust.  Ian has introduced new project management approaches that have been fundamental to the successful assessment and management of risks in our recent expansion of third-party funding. They have proved to be extremely worthwhile many times over.

Ian’s direct approach to any issues, and his hands-on engagement with day-to-day and strategic matters, has really helped the Trust to move securely to its current financial state, thereby underwriting the next steps we plan to take. He has not only willingly stepped in to provide financial guidance to the Trust and its subsidiaries whenever requested, but has pro-actively identified potential improvements to our operations and facilitated their adoption.    

His good-humoured and sociable nature belies the detailed assessments that underpin his advice; advice which is confidently accepted by Trustees and staff and which has underpinned the Trust’s activities during his tenure. We are truly grateful for his very significant contribution to our work. 

Julia Aspden

Julia Aspden has volunteered for many years at the North Wales Wildlife Trust’s shop on the Great Orme in Llandudno. As well as two regular shifts, she took on extra responsibilities which she carried out conscientiously and efficiently. She had the onerous responsibility of keeping us well stocked with items such as magnets and bookmarks - that may sound easy but making sure that we never ran out of a name or a motto wasn’t a five-minute job!  In addition, during the last couple of seasons, Julia was always happy to fill vacant sessions, often at very short notice. This meant that sometimes she was volunteering four shifts a week.

A few years ago, Julia was ‘persuaded’ to take on the role of Director of the Trading Board.  She made a valuable contribution to the overseeing of Trading during her time on the Board.

Sadly, Julia has decided to retire from volunteering for Trading and she will be greatly missed. Her cheery welcome and enthusiasm for wildlife and the environment was popular with both visitors and her fellow volunteers.

This Gold Badge award is a token of our appreciation for the many hours that Julia has dedicated to the Great Orme Shop and Trading in general. 

Our Volunteer of the Year Award has been awarded to two very worthy recipients - Gina Mills and Tom Day

Gina Mills

Gina Mills is the Chair of our Marine Advisory Group (MAG) and has been a Living Seas Champion since 2019 when she retired from the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology as a Professor in environmental science.  As Chair of the Marine Advisory Group she has been instrumental in establishing processes which have allowed us to make the most of the wealth of knowledge and expertise within the Group.  Last year, Gina stepped in and has led on co-ordinating our response to the Morlais Tidal Demonstration Zone project to ensure that our concerns were raised with the developers.  This wouldn’t have been possible without the many hours Gina spent sifting through technical documents & pulling together the opinions of our Group members. 

Out from behind the computer, Gina has been a wholly engaged and motivational team member, helping with many varied aspects of our Living Seas work, including shoresearch surveys, beach cleans, sea watching events and ID sessions. She is inspirational and a highly valued member of the Living Seas and wider Trust family. 

Tom Day

Tom Day volunteering at Cors y Sarnau Nature Reserve

Tom Day

Tom started volunteering with North Wales Wildlife Trust back in 2014.  This award is in recognition of all of the hard work he has been doing at Aberduna & our other nature reserves in NE Wales throughout 2020-21.  This work includes:

  • Managing the woodlands around the Aberduna office.  Tom has helped to remove dead, diseased & dangerous trees.  He has created habitat piles, dead hedges & processed the timber so that it can be utilised as firewood, etc.
  • Giving Aberduna wildlife garden a new lease of life by removing encroaching scrub and trees that were shading out the wildflower meadow. The fantastic display of orchids in the wildlife garden this year is testament to his commitment and dedication.
  • Repairing and maintaining our chainsaws and other equipment.
  • Constructing a new path to improve accessibility in and around the wildlife garden.   
  • Making Covid-safe adaptations to the tree nursery by re-routing a footpath which reduced traffic through the potting shed (to ensure social distancing could be maintained).
  • Helping staff with work on larger trees at our other nature reserves including Big Pool Wood & Cors y Sarnau.

Tom is an honourable, honest, perceptive and hardworking individual and a very deserving winner of the Volunteer of the Year award. 

Megan Parkinson has been recognised as our Young Volunteer of the Year

Megan Parkinson

Megan Parkinson

Throughout the past year, Megan has taken on lots of work to ensure that the messages of the North Wales Wildlife Trust (NWWT) and our projects are taken out to the masses.  Since last autumn, she has taken part in co-delivered debates on topical issues for NWWT, including our most successful debate on the insect apocalypse.  She has also represented NWWT on the  UK-wide Our Bright Future youth forum.  Through her connection to this forum she has succeeded in training other young people on discord servers, has been a young voice on a town hall event and has spoken alongside Craig Bennett and Tony Juniper at an online peatland management event which was watched by thousands of people.

As a young person on the Mon Gwyrdd youth forum, Megan has gone above and beyond to represent her community, other young people and NWWT on local and national platforms.  She has done so with confidence, eloquence and a maturity beyond her years.  She is a deserving winner of the NWWT Young Volunteer of the Year Award for 2020-21.

The Volunteer Group of the Year was awarded to our wonderful Big Pool Wood volunteers

Big Pool Wood volunteers

Big Pool Wood volunteers © NWWT

The Big Pool Wood Volunteer group is led and inspired by warden Mark Hughes (who has known the nature reserve since the 1990s) and Roger Riley (who has given his life and soul to the project over the last 4 years).  This amazing group of volunteers have transformed Big Pool Wood from a little known, dark, overgrown reedbed, with a non-navigable pathway, to one populated by dragonflies and butterflies flying through dappled sunny glades and rides. The volunteers’ work has also helped with the re-emergence of the almost lost giant bellflower.

The construction of scores of bird boxes, picnic benches & screens, together with topped up bird feeders, has created an ambiance of a place ‘being loved and cared for’.  The nature reserve is often teaming with visitors.  There are now three bird hides (two donated by Roger), a boardwalk and accessible surfaced pathways.  This transformation has greatly accelerated this year with over 86 volunteer days taking place, using materials funded by community grants from Gwynt y Mor and Burbo wind farm projects. Most recently a pond dipping platform was completed to Roger’s design, with special thanks going to Peter Scarll and Graham Platt for their help with this particular project. 

Roger initiated a successful Facebook group, everyday embellished with beautiful photographs.  This has helped to recruit new members to the North Wales Wildlife Trust and has put the nature reserve prominently ‘on the map’.  Well done and a huge thank you to all of the Big Pool Wood volunteers.