Ramblings from Finemere Wood

Ramblings from Finemere Wood

Primroses by Katrina Martin / 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.

February: cold, gloom, rain, more rain, and oodles of mud. Volunteers locked down in their warm houses, perhaps a little thankful that the volunteer work parties in the wood are suspended for now.

I took a walk around Finemere Wood, footprints of adventurous souls evident in the thick, glistening, treacherous mud. Ponds brim with water and streams tumble through woodland. Muntjac nip nimbly through the undergrowth, and I spot just one flowering primrose. A robin sings loudly, defending its territory, as it contemplates enticing a mate. Spring is on the horizon. 

The call of a green woodpecker, loud and laughing echoes through the naked winter trees. I think of David, a mainstay of the Finemere team, who is always amusing company. Vociferous, jolly and an expert in banter, his voice resonates through the wood with a never-ending string of extraordinary tales of adventure and intrigue. 


David, one of the volunteers at Finemere Wood nature reserve. Photo by Charlotte Karmali

An exceptionally talented craftsman, David originally trained as a cabinet maker, running his own small company, hand-making furniture. He has always enjoyed passing his skills on to others, spent much of his career doing so, and continues to generously share his expertise with any keen, interested individual. He is a woodturner, a woodcarver, generally enjoys making things and is always looking for a new challenge.

Venturing into the world of volunteering, post-retirement, David tested out a role at Waddesdon Manor. He soon realised that he needed something less structured and so joined the Finemere team, where he enjoys “the conviviality of working with like-minded, good-humoured friends”. It is a niche which suits him well. You may also spot him at Calvert Jubilee and the Upper Ray Meadows, as he joins the volunteer workforces there. With a tool for everything, he is undoubtedly a useful chap to have around.


David and some of the other Finemere Wood volunteers with their scythes. Photo by Charlotte Karmali

His favourite woodland activity? Scything. He “enjoys the gentle swish and satisfaction of being able to use such a classic tool.” Swathes of Finemere grass have been cut each year by this master of the scythe.

An accomplished photographer and lover of wildlife, David endeavours to take “worthwhile” photos of all things wild, dragonflies being a particular fascination. Loaded down with powerful camera lenses, this fine specimen of a volunteer, never misses the opportunity to catch compromising photographs of unsuspecting fellow workers.

Sailing is a passion. David was a sailing instructor, sailed across the Atlantic and helped to deliver yachts. As he has aged, he has found his body is less forgiving and was thus forced to give up dinghy sailing once falling out of the boat meant he couldn’t get back in. His body allows him to continue cycling, fixing other people's bicycles along the way. An intrepid traveller, he has visited all seven continents, the highlights for him, the Polar regions and British Columbia.

“So, tell me something few people know about you”, I ask.

“I own a small plot of peat bog somewhere in the middle of Connemara” David answers. 

These volunteers really are a curious and captivating clan.

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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