Volunteering Case Study: Ron
Ron Baker has been volunteering in the Suffolk & Essex Coast & Heaths National Landscape for more than 12 years. Ron explains why he volunteers his time, and how his love for the area continues to grow more than a decade later.
I first got involved with the Suffolk & Essex Coast & Heaths National Landscape as a volunteer when I saw an article describing the work of Coast and Estuary Wardens which interested and attracted me. Wardens walk and survey the footpaths along the coast and estuary and report any problems such as litter, pollution, bait digging, disturbance and dog fouling.
The chance to combine my two passions of walking and volunteering, whilst at the same time discovering new areas of the county and making a positive contribution to the coast and heaths area was the perfect role for me!
Over the years volunteering in the Suffolk & Essex Coast & Heaths National Landscape has helped me meet a wide range of people and families and I have made lasting friendships. It’s fantastic to have the opportunity to learn more and exploring areas which have not been accessible previously is a delight. Simple pleasures like looking over a hedge and seeing what’s there!
I have walked throughout the whole of the Suffolk & Essex Coast & Heaths National Landscape, exploring the coast and the rivers and designated footpaths several times over. One thing I have really noted is the diversity in the landscape which we are so lucky to have on our doorstep. Volunteering for the wide range of work parties and group activities has allowed me to develop new skills and enhance some that I already had. I have also had the opportunity to waymark and add posts and signs in many locations so with pride I can point out that, ‘I did that!’.
On many occasions I meet and greet people and engage in conversation about the role. It gives a personal involvement and a huge sense of pride and self-worth being able to care and make a difference to the environment, as well as exploring the habitats along the way.
By getting involved with the Beachwatch activities, I’m able to help pick up litter and debris from our glorious coastline and complete a survey of an area. It has introduced me to new and interesting people who share the same concerns and passions as I do.
I recently had the great honour of being nominated for The David Wood National Landscape Award, which recognises outstanding contributions in conservation and enhancement of the natural beauty and special qualities of Suffolk & Essex Coast & Heaths National Landscape.
If you are someone who enjoys being out in the open air, along our wonderful, nationally well recognised coast and heaths, and you are considering joining with us or volunteering in your local community, I would definitely recommend that you take the step in doing so!
At the Suffolk & Essex Coast & Heaths National Landscape, the support and friendly welcome of other similar volunteers and the dedicated staff will fully draw you in. I’ve been doing this now for nearly 12 years and I keep wanting to get involved. It just gets better!