Ramblings from Finemere Wood

Ramblings from Finemere Wood

Great spotted woodpecker by Mark Hamblin/2020VISION

Who are the volunteers who keep Finemere Wood as a haven for wildlife, and why do they volunteer for BBOWT? Charlotte introduces you to another of her trusty team.

Here we go again: lockdown number three. Once more, along with the wider population, the Finemere Wood volunteers must retreat to their homes, hunker down and wait for the storm to ease. The wood will still be there, once we have made it through this tempestuous time, ready to reveal its natural wonders and share its healing powers.

What better time to focus upon another of those woodland workers? Ian, known to me for many years, from my early days of BBOWT volunteering, is one in a million, a great communicator, with a tremendous interest in people.


Ian, one of the Finemere Wood volunteers. Photo by Charlotte Karmali

Born a twin, during the Second World War, he had a life saving operation at Great Ormond Street Hospital at the tender age of six weeks. Early on in life, he developed green fingers and dreamed of becoming a farmer. However, he was encouraged to pursue a more lucrative career, and so studied accounts.

Clinging on to his dreams of working the land, a job with the Milk Marketing Board was a compromise. Following this, an exciting opportunity arose to work as an area accountant in the West Cameroons with the Development Corporation, on their plantations. Ian relished this lucky break and spent two years working on the estates which grew palms, rubber, tea, bananas and pepper. Back in the UK he followed a more conventional career in manufacturing industry.

Ian is a keen volunteer and is known widely due to his involvement with BBOWT work parties over the years. He says he is currently less active, limiting his volunteering efforts to conservation with the Chiltern Society, gardening for the YHA, and of course Finemere Wood with BBOWT. His favourite Finemere activity is to create 'scallops' along the woodland edges of the rides.


Creating 'scallops' in the woodland. Photo by Charlotte Karmali

We do much of this in the wood, rotating the sections that are cleared of vegetation. This allows more light to hit the ground and encourages new growth, enhancing biodiversity in this most valuable of habitats. Ian often works like a Trojan, and can be found amongst huge piles of fallen trees and shrubs, pouring with sweat. I keep an eye on him, gently reminding him that he is no longer twenty something, we only have one body and it must be preserved.

Ian is drawn to Finemere by friendship, exercise and fresh air. He has a general interest in all flora and fauna, with butterflies having the edge. At the end of a heavy day of volunteering, Ian particularly enjoys wildlife, current affairs and murder mysteries on television. He considers himself to be “one of the luckiest people in the world”, with many friends and 15 “super” grand nephews and nieces.

Ian gives the woodland workers much to smile and chuckle about. His lunches are one such thing: not the usual sandwich and a piece of fruit, instead chunks of cheese, a whole packet of chocolate digestives and, on a special day, a large iceberg lettuce to munch through. The man has hollow legs.

There are many volunteering opportunities with BBOWT. If you'd like to get involved with us once restrictions allow, please contact us to find out more about the different opportunities we have.

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