Exmoor volunteers project shortlisted
The West Somerset Mineral Line Association volunteers have been short-listed in the UK National Parks’ Volunteer Awards.
Whether it's the person installing stiles and making repairs in the Brecon Beacons, or the group keeping alive the memory of Exmoor's centuries-old mining tradition, or a project helping to return the majestic osprey to Lake District skies, the UK's National Park family owe a great deal to the volunteers who help make Britain's breathing spaces so special. These are among the 15 individuals and organisations that have been shortlisted for the UK National Parks Volunteer Awards.
West Somerset Mineral Line Association is a small group of volunteers who play an important role in informing visitors and locals about the mining history around the eastern side of Exmoor National Park. This history stretches back to pre-Roman times, but the main activity was in the second half of the 1800s when iron ore was taken down a 1000m gravity operated 1:4 slope railway to a harbour where it was taken to South Wales for smelting and processing.
Over the last year a group of 5 core volunteers, supported by others, have given over 260 hours of work to engage around 700 people at 33 separate events. These have included school groups, long distance walks, easy access trails, bus trips and evening talks.
Volunteer Phil Gannon said: “I have thoroughly enjoyed volunteering for Exmoor and the West Somerset Mineral Line group and we are all delighted to be shortlisted for this award. It has been wonderful having so many people express their thanks and gratitude for showing them around an area I care for so much. One great bonus is that working with the local community we are now able to access the 150 year old Beulah Chaple that was built for the miners and their families”
Commenting on the award, Patrick Watts-Mabbott from Exmoor National Park said: “The Mineral Line volunteers have worked very hard bringing the area to life and it’s great that this has has been recognized. Some local people are learning more about their area’s history and others come from all over the country to visit us. If anyone would like to get involved with this project, or any other aspect of volunteering on Exmoor contact me on 07973727469 or by email email@example.com”
All 15 members of the National Parks family benefit from the hard work and dedication of volunteers. Over the past few months, the UK Association of National Park Authorities has been compiling a list of volunteers whose colleagues feel they are deserving of extra recognition. Now, after poring over all the submissions and long debate, a shortlist has been announced.
The shortlist recognises volunteers in three categories -- individual, group, and project -- with five nominees listed in each category. Winners will be chosen later this autumn by outdoor enthusiasts and TV presenters Julia Bradbury and Helen Skelton.
All of the nominees have been deemed to have gone above and beyond the expectations of volunteers in helping to protect, maintain and enhance the environment and heritage of their area. But that doesn't always mean getting hands dirty.
“Whether they’re mending footpaths or helping out in visitor centres, our volunteers love our National Parks and that enthusiasm is infectious. They help us with some of our most vital conservation and preservation work – they’re a formidable force for good,” said Carl Lis, Chairman of UK ANPA.
The UK National Park Volunteer Awards are supported by Countryside Council for Wales, Merrell, Natural England, and Scottish Natural Heritage.
The winning individual volunteer will win a prize of outdoor gear from National Parks brand partner Merrell. Winners of the group and project categories will win a £1,000 bursary to help facilitate future volunteering activity.
To view the names of all the individuals, groups, and projects nominated for the UK National Parks Volunteer Awards, visit: http://www.nationalparks.gov.uk/volunteerawards
Published: 17 October 2012
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