Volunteer awards

Volunteer awards

Awards are presented at our AGM where we recognise outstanding individual and group contributions and present lifetime achievement awards. 

The volunteers awards recognise and celebrate all the hard work our volunteers across the three counties do throughout the year, every year, in all weathers, giving so generously of their time and skills.

“It’s no understatement to say that without our volunteers we simply wouldn’t be able to achieve our vision of more nature everywhere.”
Frances Brindle presenting the 2021 awards

Meet the winners!

2021 Winners

Winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award

Judi Fisher joined the Dancersend volunteer group soon after 2002. By 2005/6, she was helping with organising the work parties, acting as main contact and sending out reminders and reports. She has worked with volunteer reserve warden Mick Jones to sustain a very happy and effective group of now over 30 people. Judi’s organisational skills, caring and supportive style have become one of the hallmarks of the Dancersend Group and are highly praised by the volunteers, especially new recruits. Over the last two years she has been invaluable in holding the group together despite the constraints of the pandemic. When they could have very restricted numbers, she operated a booking system that ensured all interested volunteers were able to attend at least for half a day every couple of weeks or so. She also came up with parallel group sessions, with different start times and working in different areas, to help as many people as possible to stay involved. Her warm and caring communications and willingness to give individual support during the lockdowns were commented on widely. The group holds her in great regard, and Mick Jones says that couldn’t manage the reserve without her.

Winners of the award for Outstanding Contribution (Group)

The East Berkshire and West Berkshire Field Teams which are two groups made up of skilled and experienced volunteers who carry out many of the technical and habitat management tasks on all of our reserves in Berkshire. They specialise particularly in the technical infrastructure work such as boardwalk repairs and construction, installing steps and maintaining bridges. Each member is a key volunteer, meaning they’re able to drive BBOWT vehicles and this allows the group to run more autonomously. They’ve also been able to deliver urgent tasks through the lockdowns and subsequent restrictions which stopped other regular volunteer groups from running.

The Young and Teen Ranger Volunteers are based at the Nature Discovery Centre and both juggle volunteering with full-time jobs. Hayley and Ellie help deliver creative and vibrant sessions for our conservation club on site and have stepped up to help with preparing and presenting our new online eco-club, which began during lockdown and helps us to reach more young people. They research and prepare scientific facts on subjects like beetles, dragonflies and damselflies, trees, and citizen science projects to name but a few. Both are an inspiration and example to the teenagers who attend their sessions and they show that a contribution to the natural world can exist in a busy life.

The Education Volunteers at College Lake support our schools’ delivery, run Nature Tots and engage with the families attending holiday workshops and trails. Without them we wouldn’t be able to deliver to the numbers of children that we do or offer such a variety of experiences for the children and families. The past 18 months has been extremely difficult for everyone but our band of dedicated education volunteers were ready and willing to return as soon as we were able to start our sessions again. This enabled us to welcome back relieved schools, happy families and also to offer a level of normality that was appreciated by staff and the volunteers themselves.

Winners of the award for Outstanding Contribution (Individual)

Graham Breadmore who has been an active volunteer with BBOWT for over 10 years. He leads a weekly volunteer group at the Loddon Nature Reserve in Berkshire where he’s been instrumental in caring for the site, relocating and renovating an old otter holt, replacing boardwalks, and engaging with the public. He also takes a volunteer group to Hurley Chalk Pit and has joined our new Volunteer Champions Forum. Graham is a valued member of our Field team too, carrying out numerous habitat management tasks and, as an engineer, has also helped us solve many engineering issues, repairing damaged equipment and maintaining the groups' tools. His help running smaller work parties at other sites as lockdown restrictions eased has been invaluable and enabled essential work to be completed.

Tony Croft is a key and enthusiastic member of the team supporting the management of Whitecross Green Wood in Buckinghamshire. He runs working parties through the winter, and protects the flower-rich woodland rides during the summer, when over-keen photographers are at risk of trampling these precious areas in their eagerness to get a photo of the reserve’s rare black hairstreak butterflies. Tony has been a volunteer surveyor for the Trust’s Reserves Monitoring Programme for many years too, surveying butterflies at Rushbeds Wood every year since it started in 2007, barely missing a survey week! More recently he has also helped with the Whitecross Green Wood butterfly transect since Becky Woodell’s retirement.

Clive Dalzell is a valued member of the North Bucks weekly Wednesday field team, and also leads the Finemere Wood and Calvert Jubilee work parties. He’s contributed many hours of his time to BBOWT, using his skills to help with habitat management tasks, the logistics of managing our sites, and to repair and service tractors, often volunteering extra days to make sure tasks are finished to a high standard. Sadly, Clive is leaving the team at the end of the year and moving on to pastures new. We thank Clive for all his contributions over the years and wish him very well in the future.

Jane Hicks joined the Nature Discovery Centre as a volunteer helping to run the busy Christmas pop-up shop in 2019. She was the first volunteer to return to the centre after the Covid lockdown telling us that she ‘knew how much we would need her help during this period’. Jane is a fantastic ambassador for the centre, warmly welcoming visitors and helping them get the most from their visit. She uses her sound business background to help staff with finance processes and suggest new ideas for the shop, and even brings friends and groups for a visit and a cuppa on her day off.

David Owen has gone over and above what we require from a ‘meet and greet’ volunteer at College Lake. He’s supported the staff running the site by setting up and managing a rota for the volunteers which ensures there are enough volunteers available to open up safely. David’s set up a communication email for all volunteers to talk to each other, swap shifts and share ideas, and he represents College Lake at our new Volunteer Champions Forum. And as a face of BBOWT, come rain or shine, he’s always there to welcome our visitors with a smile!

2020 winners

Volunteer Award winners 2020

2019 winners

For their Outstanding Individual contributions

John Ashford 
John has been an active volunteer with BBOWT since 2011 when he first joined the Berkshire midweek team in the year he ‘retired’ at 75 years old! He quickly became a key member of the group, working his socks off and engendering a keen sense of identity and camaraderie within the group. Aside from running regular surveys for fungi, orchids and geology, John has also led guided walks and taken on a mentor role for the Wildlife Trainees. John has developed a great feeling of trust, friendship and companionship within the team. 

Carol Dedman
Carol is dedicated, loyal, reliable and completely unflappable! She has been supporting College Lake’s education administration since early 2014. Among her many tasks she works on the education database bookings, even ringing schools before their visit to make sure everything is in order, collates data for reporting and generates all the ‘paperwork’ that is needed for the team. Whilst most of what she does is unseen, she is a hugely important and valued part of the team and her impact is vital.

Elizabeth Henderson
Dedicated and enthusiastic, Elizabeth Henderson (or 'Liz') plays an essential part in running the charcoal burning at Warburg Nature Reserve. This allows the raw materials from coppicing to be transformed into a sellable product. She ensures the whole process, from the burns to the unloading of the kilns, runs smoothly. This includes visiting the kilns, sometimes several times, at the end of burning to check the smoke - necessary for determining when the chimneys should be closed off. She has also run charcoal burning training courses for volunteers and members at Warburg Nature Reserve, again providing essential support and organisation to the course from beginning to end. 

Peter Simpson
Peter is a long-term dedicated volunteer, a reservoir of extremely invaluable historical site knowledge at Warburg Nature Reserve, who has made a huge contribution to the charcoal burning team at Warburg Nature Reserve. He takes conservation very seriously, and he is the technical lead in the charcoal burning. Peter does a lot of research into safety Equipment to enable the charcoal team to work safely with this very dusty product.  He has also been the driving force behind technical adaptations, including an enclosed rotary sieve that has significantly improved the charcoal produced. 

Sue Taylor
“It’s as if I have been going around blind until now” is a well known phrase to those who attended Sue's 'Introduction to recording invertebrates' course. Sue wrote, organised and presented the course, driven by her desire to share the huge amount of detailed knowledge she has gained about invertebrates. The free indoor and outdoor practical seminar took place over four Sundays at Dancersend. In the words of one attendee, "We were transfixed!" 

For their Outstanding Group Contributions

Buckinghamshire Mid-week Team 
The Buckinghamshire Mid-Week Team is a “roving” team, which concentrates its efforts in the south of the county. Known as the 'A-Team' they have existed for around 10 years, meeting weekly, often travelling up to an hour to sites, regardless of the weather or task. Part of their role has been helping with our push to restore chalk grassland sites across the Buckinghamshire side of the Chilterns which has benefited many of the rare orchids and butterflies that find their home on these isolated sites. It is no exaggeration to say that, without them, we would not achieve our work plan in South Buckinghamshire. 

Chimney Meadows work party 
The Friends of Chimney Meadows are recognised for changing what was arable, barren and overgrazed land to the wildlife-rich landscape it is today. Twice a month the volunteers venture out in order to keep on top of all the vegetation and infrastructure management, which is a very big job. The group accomplishes a huge amount in a day from scrub clearance, cutting back protruding branches and making habitat piles, to dead-hedging, fence repairs, and car park maintenance. Each member complements the group with their unique skills, sharing a great sense of camaraderie and a passion to care for the wildlife and to create a positive experience for visitors. 
Finemere Volunteer work party 
Finemere Wood simply wouldn’t sustain the populations of birds, invertebrates such as purple emperor, and impressive ride and meadow vegetation assemblages without the fantastic dedication of its resident work party. They have completed an impressive list of tasks, including cutting a 50x50m coppice coupe in a winter, plus several ride-side scallops, maintaining deer management lawns, constructing many metres of fencing, path clearance and access work, all taken in their stride and with a smile. The volunteers clearly care about each other, work hard and return to their lives refreshed and cheerful, giving immeasurable benefit to the wider world. 

2018 winners

For their Outstanding Individual Contributions

Adrian Bayliss has spent an incredible number of hours observing the breeding activity of key bird species at College Lake. Thanks to Adrian’s dedication, we have been able to get accurate numbers about the breeding success of all five of our key breeding species for the last three years. This data is vital for our habitat management. 

Judith Bishop is a long standing volunteer who assists our membership team. She is never daunted by the amount of membership packs she has to process! She has become a valued member of our membership team and we sincerely appreciate her volunteering with us. 

Stuart Edwards has been an active volunteer with the Trust for more than six years. Volunteering at Woolley Firs, he has helped us to implement our grazing plan across multiple sites. He has also helped us to fulfill our stewardship obligations, which has enabled us to bring this work in house with a considerable financial saving for the Trust. 

Rick Saunders began volunteering with BBOWT in 2010, and immediately brought to the team his passion for conservation, learning, and supporting others. He has participated in just about every type of practical task there is including surveying, handling grazing animals, felling and fencing – and writing articles for the Oxford Mail! 

Val Siddiqui volunteers in the External Affairs team at HQ. She played an important role during the 2017 general election when we were contacting parliamentary candidates. Val’s contribution forms a key part of our advocacy effort to engage politicians and organisations about the importance of the environment. 

For their Outstanding Group Contributions

Bob Evans and Mike Wells volunteer with the Conservation, Policy and Strategy team at HQ. They help support the team with data management and provide technical know-how with data management and analysis. They have each helped immensely with areas of work which the team would otherwise not have the time or expertise to do. 

David Croucher and Malcolm Edwards have volunteered at College Lake for more than eighteen years. They have built, modified and refurbished many buildings to a very high standard. The effect of the projects on the facilities provided for visitors, staff and volunteers at College Lake is immense. 

The Nature Memories Café volunteers welcome people with dementia and their carers to the Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham each week. The volunteers help up to 30 people at each session to engage in activities that connect them to the natural world. People leave the sessions feeling valued and supported. 

The Oxfordshire Mid-Week Team is a group of around 15 people have who been volunteering for the Trust for many years. This hard working group has dealt with this year’s snow storms and blistering summer heat. They also helped set up and run Countryfile in August. The Reserves Team would not have been able to get this far without our Mid-Week Team. 

The Upper Ray Meadows work party is formed of 16 volunteers who meet weekly and cover nine nature reserves. By installing stock fencing, coppicing and hedge-laying they have helped ensure that our wildflower meadows are in fantastic condition. The hedgerows have been given a new lease of life and are perfect for Brown and Black Hairstreak butterflies. The group assists with the management of sites which up until now we have struggled to maintain.  

The Wild Banbury volunteer group has made a huge contribution towards the conservation of wildlife habitats in Banbury’s public spaces. They are always ready to get their hands dirty and try something new. This year they have helped to restore a pond in icy weather, and worked hard during this year’s incredibly hot summer. 

Lifetime Achievement Awards

George Bray has been an important part of College Lake’s arable project for many years. His specialist knowledge of how to grow incredibly rare plants has helped the project to become nationally important. He has enabled many people to enjoy rare and beautiful species and has also helped to raise awareness of the impacts that intensive farming has had on certain species. 

Martin and Sue Smith have been involved with Hartslock nature reserve and the surrounding area for approximately 30 years where they have carried out orchid counts and helped out at a Local Wildlife Site.  After years with the Hartslock work party, they also became stock-watchers. Come rain or shine, Martin and Sue venture out on their weekly hike up the steep slopes of the reserve to check on our grazing sheep. We are hugely grateful for their many years of help and support! 

Richard Tomlin began volunteering for BBONT in the early 1970s but it wasn’t until he retired in around 2002 that he took on major roles within the BBOWT Chilterns Group. He helps with fundraising, leads bird-related walks, carries out bird surveys at reserves, and designs and produces posters for events. 

Ann Wilson became involved with what was then BBONT in 1965. She became the membership secretary for BBONT when the Trust had just 5,000 members and ran a tight ship for many years, working from her kitchen table. Ann has contributed to BBOWT Chilterns events for 50 years. She is a Trust hero with a lifetime of active support for the cause. 

2017 winners

volunteer award winners

BBOWT Lifetime Achievement Award winners 2017

John Dellow, Dr John Ward-Smith, Anne Booth, Dr Alan Showler, Becky Woodell, Louise Spicer, Mike Turton and Margaret Cochrane received Lifetime Achievement Awards.

Len Jessup, Rodney Sims and Richard Hall were recognised for their outstanding individual contributions.

The Bowdown Friday Team, The College Lake and Meadow Farm maintenance team, The Nature Tots volunteer group at Sutton Courtenay Environmental Education Centre (SCEEC) and The SCEEC Friday Volunteers were recognised for their outstanding contributions as volunteer groups.

2016 winners

Derek Emes, Dr Michael Keith-Lucas and Shirley Townend from Berkshire received Lifetime Achievement Awards.

Ciaran Kealy from Oxford was voted Volunteer of the Year for his dedication and commitment to the conservation work parties he volunteers with in Oxfordshire.

Woolley Firs Nature Tots Group in Berkshire was voted Volunteer Group of the Year for their professionalism and expertise running popular sessions for pre-school children.

2015 winners

Theale Area Bird Conservation Group, which carries out conservation work at Hosehill Lake reserve was voted Volunteer Group of the year.

Lloyd Garvey from West Berkshire was voted Volunteer of the year for all the many and varied roles he carries out for the Trust.

Roger Frankum, who has retired as warden of Hungerford Marsh after 35 years, received the Lifetime Achievement Award.


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