Natural England - Our amazing volunteers receive awards

Our amazing volunteers receive awards

25 February 2014

Natural England is privileged to have support from just over 3,000 volunteers who willingly give their skills, knowledge and expertise and contribute the equivalent of 32,250 working days each year.

Natural England Chair Andrew Sells and Dr Judy Webb
Natural England Chair Andrew Sells and Dr Judy Webb © Natural England

Our ‘Volunteer of the Year’ awards recognise and celebrate the incredibly valuable contribution which they make.  Last year was the inaugural ‘Volunteer of the Year’ award, and this year the recognition was divided into two categories to acknowledge the work of individuals as well as teams. Our staff and our volunteers were asked for nominations, and the winners were announced earlier this month. 

At the awards ceremony in London, Natural England’s Chairman Andrew Sells presented the two awards and said: “All our volunteers work incredibly hard. Their skills, dedication and expertise make a vital contribution to what we can deliver. They work tirelessly for the natural environment.”

Both Natural England staff and our volunteers took part in the voting, and together they nominated 16 individuals and 18 teams for this award. The two winning finalists were:

  • Volunteer of the Year – individual award
    Judy Webb, Lead Biological Recording Volunteer, Aston Rowant, Barton Hills and Cothill National Nature Reserves (NNRs) 

  • Volunteers of the Year – team award
    Mencap Volunteer Group at four of our East of England NNRs 

Individual award 

Judy Webb has been volunteering for Natural England for three years and during that time has made a huge contribution to our understanding of several National Nature Reserves. She has co-ordinated fieldwork and been involved with invertebrate, moss and lichen recording as well as species surveillance projects. She has added many new ‘notable and nationally scarce’ records to the reserves lists and shared records with the County Records centre. These records directly help nature conservation and improve how habitats are managed. 

Judy has set a very high standard for biological recording and has shaped a strategy for evidence gathering, devising methodologies and survey protocols. She has also shared her knowledge and skills with others through mentoring other volunteers and working with partner organisations. Her knowledge is directly benefitting the future of the reserves, and the looming skills gap in biological recording.

Team award

The impressive Mencap Volunteer Group get together every week of the year, come rain or shine, and show how it is possible to gain physical and mental wellbeing from contact with the countryside – whilst making a huge contribution to conserving and enhancing the environment at four of our NNRs in the East of England.
Fencing, coppicing, scrub clearance, or herding livestock are all part of their weekly routine. What began as a short-term trial in 2006 soon evolved into an indispensable part of our management of the four NNRs. Now, the frequency of the group’s involvement has enabled the NNR team to use them as a reliable resource around which other volunteering work is coordinated.

Regular NNR volunteers have gone out of their way to work with the group, adapt to their needs and provide expert support like tractor driving and chainsaw work, enabling the group to achieve even more. Equally, the Mencap supervisors lead, encourage and support this wonderful team with tremendous dedication and commitment. Find out more about the UK’s leading learning disability charity, Mencapexternal link.