Our volunteer heroes 2012
Step forward the winners...
This year we decided to celebrate the hard work of our volunteer heroes by launching the Volunteer Awards 2012.
Volunteer of the Year - David Preston, Yorkshire Dales National Park
Highly commended - Jim Vallis, Lake District National Park
- Individual who's made an outstanding contribution, over and above what's expected of a volunteer
- Judged by Emily Carr, marketing executive, Merrell UK
Emily said: "We feel David Preston personifies Merrell’s quest to inspire people to ‘Get Outside’ with his commitment and dedication in the outdoors. A special commendation also goes to Jim Vallis for an incredible voluntary service to the UK National Parks that spans more than 30 years."
Since he began volunteering in 2009 David has volunteered for an average of 91 days a year - way above the usual 15 annual days - and he's helped with practical tasks in the field as well as recording details of flora, fauna and images of the work carried out by volunteers in his team's area. He's also gone on to train in habitat management and is working towards his 'hazel dormouse licence'.
After winning the award, David Preston said: "I feel very privileged to have been awarded National Park Volunteer of the Year 2012. I feel the award isn’t just for me, it also reflects all the hard work volunteers have contributed to all of the UK’s National Parks and I hope it encourages more people from diverse backgrounds to come forward and volunteer."
- Find out more about David's work and the work of our other volunteers here
Group of the Year - Lake District Volunteer-led Activity Programme
Highly commended - West Somerset Mineral Line Association, Exmoor National Park
- Group which best demonstrates their work has had a significant impact on the National Park
- Judged by Helen Skelton
Helen said: "By arming younger visitors with skills with which to enjoy the Lake District, such as navigation and birdwatching, I feel volunteers are helping ensure visitors return to and fully appreciate the Lake District. I am inspired by the way in which they enthuse younger visitors about the area and what it has to offer. By working with the National Park the volunteer group is able to make the most of existing infrastructure and resources."
Helen added: "I would like to highly commend the West Somerset Mineral Line Association on two counts:The restoration of pathways to make it safer for people to walk alongside busy roads and its use of local businesses to support activity programmes thus generating local business.
"I would also commend members of the Cumbria Amenity Trust Mining History Society for their specialist knowledge and educational engagement."
Volunteers in the Lake District put on around 400 events a year for the public such as iSpy birdwatching for children and guided walks that help people appreciate the special qualities of the National Park. The events are so popular many visitors return year after year to take part and donations resulting from the volunteer events programme generate around £3,000 per year.
- Find out more about the work of the Lake District volunteers and our other volunteer groups here
UK Volunteer Project of the Year - Lake District Osprey Project
Highly commended - Heritage At Risk Project, Northumberland National Park
- In recognition of an outstanding project which has made a significant contribution to National Park Purposes
- Judged by Julia Bradbury
Julia said: "The breadth of dedication and altruism all the volunteers offer, across the country is inspirational. It’s a demonstration of such character and is a source of great pride across the National Parks. This year I choose the Lake District Osprey Project; the overall scale of the project and the number of volunteers involved is commendable.
"Sometimes the wildlife can be overlooked in this magnificent landscape and to foster and protect an environment where Ospreys can successfully breed is fantastic. To engage with between 60,00-85,000 visitors in the region is also vitally important in terms of spreading the word and developing enthusiasm. I know it’s not always ‘happy camping’ on those 24 hour shifts too!"
Julia added: "I’d like to highly commend the Heritage at Risk Project (Northumberland) because protecting our history is vital and very often not appreciated until it’s too late."
Volunteers on the Lake District Osprey Project provide 24-hour protection for Ospreys during the breeding season to ward off egg thieves. The result has been, since 2001, 23 young ospreys leaving nests - an amazing turnaround in the Osprey's fortunes. Volunteers also run a visitor centre from Easter to September sharing their knowledge of the birds and manning viewpoints which are the most popular wildlife attraction in the National Park.
- Find out more about the Lake District Osprey Project and our other volunteer-run projects here
Be inspired by our volunteer stories
Volunteers work in all weathers, often in remote locations, tirelessly protecting the environment and wildlife and making it easier for us to access and understand our great outdoors.
Here are just a few of the tasks we thank them for...
I want to make a difference - how can I volunteer?
If you have skills and enthusiasm (or the just the willingness to get stuck in!) and you've been inspired to volunteer you'll find information on how to go about joining our other volunteers here