Celebrating contribution made by park volunteers

Tony Gates, Iain Nixon and Glen Sanderson.
Tony Gates, Iain Nixon and Glen Sanderson.

More than 80 people gathered in the Breamish Valley recently to celebrate the work undertaken by Northumberland National Park volunteers.

The volunteers contributed 2,400 days – worth more than £250,000 – to protect and promote the National Park last year (2014/15).

Highlights of the day included a walk to Wether Hill, led by volunteer and guided walk leader, Andy Bennett.

Volunteer guided-walk leaders provide a programme of 70 public walks across the National Park for around 700 members of the public each year.

Gerry Slater explained how the National Park Authority (NNPA) supports volunteers with navigation and outdoor first-aid training to enable them to lead the public.

Bob Doughty described how a group of about 30 volunteers had been trained to carry out condition surveys for more than 270 scheduled monuments in the park over the last five years.

Joe Gordon, National Park volunteer astronomer, set up a solar scope so that everyone could safely view solar flares exploding from the surface of the sun.

Ian Spencer described the wide variety of volunteering activities he is involved with, including providing a welcome service for visitors, leading walks, helping out with school groups and at events, practical projects to maintain footpaths and habitats, and projects such as the award-winning Kirknewton Archaeological Festival and the recent Google Trekker project.

The day was rounded off with volunteers from the Northumberland National Park Mountain Rescue Team providing a demonstration using a search dog to locate a ‘casualty’ who was then treated and carried to a Land Rover for onward transport to an awaiting ambulance.

New National Park chairman Glen Sanderson said: “Today provided a fantastic opportunity to showcase some of the wide range of work that volunteers do right across the National Park.

“We’ve always relied upon the support and enthusiasm of our volunteers, and we are extremely fortunate to benefit from the service of more than 150 highly-skilled men and women of all ages and backgrounds who give their time freely to protect and promote the National Park.”