Volunteer Of The Year Awards

Our annual celebration event was held on 3 December at Belton Woods Hotel in Grantham with a drinks reception followed by lunch for 90 people including nominated volunteers and their guests.

The awards were presented by our chief executive Beccy Speight, chair of our trustees Baroness Barbara Young and Woodland Trust President Clive Anderson.

The winners were:

Oak Award – for most outstanding support

Keith Lelliott

Keith has worked tirelessly to help uncover the story of trees and woods in the First World War and in doing so has identified a number of opportunities for the project to build its resonance with the public. Last year Keith uncovered the story of the Verdun Oaks, living tributes nearly 100 years old that originated from acorns collected from the battlefields of Verdun. Without Keith's attention to detail, enthusiasm for the subject and the time and commitment he has put into researching the subject, we would have not known about this inspirational story.

Acorn Award – for most inspiring volunteer

Roger Parkinson

Roger joined the Woodland Trust as a volunteer speaker in 2010. In 2011 he stepped forward to volunteer as a woodland creation champion and has become one of our most dedicated and influential champions. Roger brings together diverse groups including students with learning disabilities, soldiers, inter-faith groups and schoolchildren to grow, plant and maintain trees in West Yorkshire. He also works tirelessly to promote tree planting and conservation by representing the Trust at events ranging from an eco-day at a local synagogue and a conference for geography teachers to large-scale events like the Yorkshire and Kilnsey Shows. He has facilitated the planting of thousands of trees, engaging hundreds of children and adults with their local landscape, heritage and wildlife along the way. Each year he also assists with dozens of enquiries from community groups and landowners seeking expert advice on their own planting projects. Roger embodies the qualities that are core to the Woodland Trust.

The ceremony was very well attended (Photo: R Faulks)

Bluebell Award – for best guardian of woods and trees

Catherine De Vries

Catherine has been a woods under threat detector in Scotland since April 2014 and closely monitors two local planning authority areas for proposed developments that impact on ancient woodland. She can always be relied upon to spot applications that threaten Scotland’s scarce and precious ancient woodland and it is no exaggeration to say her work has helped save a number of these irreplaceable habitats. Catherine also drafts high quality professional responses to these planning applications. It was Catherine who drafted the Trust’s response to an extensive planning application for the development of land surrounding Loudoun Castle in Ayrshire. This was a very complex application - for a mixed development including 450 holiday lodges; glamping pitches a leisure complex and a distillery. There were numerous documents associated with the application including an environmental statement that ran to over 50 sections. We are very pleased to report that the developers subsequently withdrew the application.

Hawthorn- for most dedicated support

Olwyn Spencer

Olwyn has been a really valuable volunteer at our head office in Grantham, Lincolnshire since 2007. She has undertaken a number of different activities to support our busy central supporter services team. She is currently researching and writing woodland dedication support materials to accompany our popular dedication products. Olwyn arrives every Friday, she asks for little support and gets on with the tasks asked of her. Her work is incredibly accurate and requires no alterations or changes. Olwyn is a trusted, industrious and cheerful member of the team.

Juniper: for best champion of woods and trees

Pam Farley

Pam Farley has been a volunteer speaker with Talking Trees for the last 13 years. Over that time she has delivered an incredible 255 talks reaching 9600 people and has raised a massive £10,615 for the Woodland Trust. Pam says she has enjoyed every minute and is always looking forward to the next talk.

Congratulations to all the winners (Photo: R Faulks)

Willow Award – for best collaborative achievement

Spud Wood

The Friends of Spud Wood was set up in 2012 and helps the Trust manage Spud Wood near Lymm in Cheshire. The group has helped with coppicing along path rides and carrying out visitor surveys and has started to deliver activities in the wood including a bat walk and ecology survey with local school children during the summer. The volunteers have also raised funds for new benches and picnic tables at the site. In 2014 they started a wood allotment scheme with support from the Trust and Mersey Forest. This helps to thin the woodland, maintaining a diverse range of tree species and letting more light reach the ground.

Chairman’s Award

John Wheatley

John has been supporting the Trust since 2011 in a variety of roles which includes chairing our Scottish Tree of the Year judging panel, recording ancient trees, biological recording and helping with a variety of events across the estate.
John was a founding member of the Advisory Group for Scotland and five years on he is still an invaluable source of information and support to the team.

The annual Volunteer of the Year award programme was set up to recognise, and show our appreciation for, the exceptional hard work and dedication demonstrated by our fantastic volunteers - well done all!