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Friday, 8 June 2018

Volunteer AGM as part of Volunteers Week 2018

This week on the Eastern Moors we’ve been celebrating Volunteers Week 2018, which provides a time for us to reflect on and show our appreciation for all the hard work our fabulous volunteers do. Our team rely on a huge number of people who generously donate their time and expertise to help us protect and develop our moorlands for people and wildlife. This week on our facebook page we’ve been hearing stories from volunteers in a variety of roles about what they do and why they do it. You can read these here.

As well as this, yesterday was the Eastern Moors Partnership Volunteer AGM, which takes place every year in Volunteers Week as an opportunity to look back over the last year of hard work by our volunteers. Not only that, but it’s a lovely chance to get both the staff and volunteers together from the various corners of the Eastern Moors, some of whom never usually cross paths as they work on things as varied as archaeological monitoring, estate maintenance, and events.

This year we followed a tried and tested format of going out for a walk in the morning followed by a buffet and displays from staff members in the afternoon. Luckily we had an excellent day for it and the sun slowly burnt off the clouds as we walked from Birchen Edge car park, under Gardoms Edge and over the top of Baslow Edge, listening to willow warblers and blackcaps in the woods of Jack Flat. As it was such a beautiful morning, we decided (to mixed opinion) to deviate from the plan and take a slightly longer route back under Baslow Edge and then along Jack Flat and back over Clod Hall Moor through the woods below Birchen Edge. We were treated to the sight of a couple of woodcock as we walked below Baslow Edge, which was a lovely opportunity to get “off territory” and see a part of the local landscape that is not managed by the Eastern Moors Partnership.

In total we walked just over 6 miles, getting to the Robin Hood Inn right on time at 12.30pm with everyone seeming to forget about the longer than expected walk as the buffet shortly arrived. It was a really lovely spread put on by the pub who have been very accommodating over the last few years we’ve held the AGM there. We were also joined by a few more volunteers at the pub who had been unable to attend the walk, making it about 40 volunteers and staff all together which was a really excellent turnout.

After lunch and some time to rest our legs, the Eastern Moors site manager Danny said a very well thought out thank you to all our volunteers. Making the comparison of the land use between Eastern Moors and Geltsdale in Cumbria, which on paper are reasonably similar upland moorland reserves, Danny highlighted that the Eastern Moors gets far more foot traffic, with people coming here for so many different reasons and often with a deep and long lasting connection to the land. As such, the work of our volunteers in all their different fields allows us to maintain this place for people and for wildlife in equal measure, and the very presence of such a large group of volunteers reflects how important the landscape is to so many people.

With this lovely reminder of the importance of the hard work of volunteers in mind, the Eastern Moors staff then set up a variety of displays about what has happened on the Eastern Moors over the past year, and what we’ve got lined up for the future. This ranged from ecological monitoring results, the Sandyford Brook bridge and track restoration project, the new 2018-2023 management plan, and the upcoming footpath survey – all of which are aspects of our work that we couldn’t have done or continue to do without our volunteers. This also allowed volunteers to chat with relevant staff about upcoming training, to sign up to projects and events, and to sort out any administrative issues. We also insisted, somewhat cruelly, on snapping mug shots of as many volunteers as we could which will be compiled into a display about the Eastern Moors team at Barbrook Cottage, which wouldn’t be complete without the volunteers!

Overall it was a really excellent day. As quite a new member of staff, the volunteer AGM was a fantastic opportunity for me to meet many of our volunteers for the first time, and I really gained an appreciation of the hard work they do and vast bank of knowledge and experience we have in the Eastern Moors team thanks to these generous and talented individuals. Thank you so much to everyone who came along and here’s to next year, I can’t wait!

By Louise 
Community Involvement Ranger

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