Ramblings from Finemere Wood

Ramblings from Finemere Wood

Bluebells by Josh Raper - Conservation Media

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.

Finemere Wood has stunned us once again with its majestic carpet of bluebells. For me, a sight more emotive than ever before, having missed out on it last year.

The natural world has kept me grounded through this challenging era. My endless wanderings around fields and open spaces, noticing flowers, butterflies and tuning into birdsong has been uplifting. But it has also been reassuring, as I observe how the cycles of nature continue regardless of the pandemic.

The volunteers have weathered the storm and now return to the woods to immerse themselves in this healing, nourishing sanctuary.


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

James, a dynamo, knows only one speed, fast. He started his working life in the Royal Navy, where at the tender age of 19 he took part in the Rock of Gibraltar Run. He won and held the record time for a couple of years.

This revelation does not surprise me in the least, having observed how he works in the wood. From here through accountancy and financial services to, ultimately, a senior corporate financial planner with the Lloyds Group.

James has always had an affinity with woodland. His decision to join the Finemere team, following a BBOWT wood management course, was easy. The prospect of a slice of homemade cake adding the finishing touch.

James can also be found in the wilds on a Tuesday with the Upper Ray volunteers, in the floodplain meadows of the River Ray, or other woodland reserves such as Rushbeds Wood and Whitecross Green Wood.

In addition to this, he works as a membership recruiter for BBOWT. Strategically placed in a variety of venues, his enthusiasm for the natural world no doubt draws people in like a magnet.


His favourite Finemere activity? “Gorging on a scrumptious slice of homemade lemon drizzle cake, Victoria sponge cake, carrot cake etc..”.

James also loves to scythe, a skill which BBOWT gave him the opportunity to learn. He enjoys the camaraderie of the volunteer team, the physical exercise, and most importantly the rewarding feeling that he is helping to protect a wild space.

Butterflies have become his area of special interest, and he is responsible for the Chilswell Valley transect butterfly count. The abundance of gatekeeper butterflies in the lush grasses of Finemere Wood last summer was a highlight for James.

When not in the woods, James has many other pastimes. Baking, campanology at his local church, Clerk of Works for the church where he is kept out of mischief with plenty of maintenance chores, walking, cycling, visiting local nature reserves,  And wood carving, which he finds extremely therapeutic, that is until he chops off the wrong bit!


"Before I have time to take a breath, several panels of deer fencing are up and secured." Photo by Charlotte Karmali

James is not a man I can imagine sitting still for long. He has an energy and an effervescence about him, always at least two steps ahead of me. Thus, no sooner have I explained the day's challenge than he is off.

Before I have time to take a breath, several panels of deer fencing are up and secured. He continues apace, the only word that will stop him is “cake”. But how is that going to work in these days of Covid, when the sharing of homemade cakes is banned? I fear he will never stop.

For further information about volunteering opportunities at Finemere Wood, Calvert Jubilee, and other BBOWT reserves, please email volunteering@bbowt.org.uk.