Celebrating our volunteers - Gillian Hetherington

Dunwich beach sunrise - Jamie Smith

National Volunteer Week is in June and so this month we will be celebrating the fantastic difference our volunteers make for wildlife in Suffolk. In 2019, over 1360 volunteers have contributed nearly 68,300 hours of time. THANK YOU for your time, knowledge, skills, experience, energy and enthusiasm. We couldn’t achieve a fraction of what we do without you.

My story begins back in July 2012 when I retired from teaching. I knew that when I retired it would leave some time to do something else. But it wasn’t until 2013 that we moved to Suffolk and I found the Suffolk Wildlife Trust. I went to Brooke House for an introductory meeting, met the first of many interesting people, and started volunteering with education activities and public events. It has always been interesting and exciting.

My role as a volunteer is always to support the staff to deliver educational and recreational activities to children and adults of all ages. I enjoy working in the parks of Ipswich and other rural and coastal areas with school children, introducing them to nature and the science of nature outdoors. It is just so important for children to learn in different ways outside and connect with the natural world that is on their doorstep and it is such a privilege to be involved. I am sure that the children who dug for worms in the grounds of Bramford primary school will remember it for a long time.  

Gillian Hethering - Suffolk Wildlife Trust Volunteer

Gillian Hethering - Suffolk Wildlife Trust Volunteer 

The fun doesn’t stop there. Summer events on the beaches with schools and the general public at Shingle Street, Southwold, Felixstowe and many other locations around Suffolk are always a good way to engage with people.  It was also a good way to get to know the area and learn about the ecosystems of Suffolk. Volunteering at the Suffolk show is where I got to know more about the background of the aims and objectives of the Suffolk Wildlife Trust.  It is such a good way to introduce the important work that the Trust is doing to maintain and improve the environment of Suffolk.

My highlights have been being introduced to so many different inspirational people working for the Trust. I have learnt so much about the many aspects of ecosystems of Suffolk and met so many enthusiastic children and adults. I have always been interested in wildlife and being outdoors and I have been very pleased to be able to share it with other people.

Suffolk WildlifeTrust

Wild beach event by John Ferguson

For me, the biggest benefit of volunteering for the Trust has been the friendship and comradeship of the all the people that I have worked with. I enjoy their company and the sense of achievement of a job well done. It has been a brilliant way to become part of the community that I have moved into. The lack of activity during the pandemic left something of a hole in my life and I hope that I will be able to get back to joining in with educational and recreational activities and courses very soon.

In a world that is changing so quickly I believe that the Wildlife Trusts will have an increasingly important role in managing our environment. Another crucial role will be to educate people, of all ages, about the importance of their outdoor environment and the need to care for it and preserve it. The work that is done on the ground managing the habitats is vitally important because it is in these habitats and managed areas, along with our coastal areas, that children and adults can learn and appreciate them.

So in conclusion – volunteering has been a truly positive experience and I hope to continue to volunteer with the Suffolk Wildlife Trust. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys working with people and sharing a love of the environment.

To find out more about volunteering with Suffolk Wildlife Trust, head to our volunteering page to browse the different opportunities available. 

Volunteer with Suffolk Wildlife Trust