[Helen Jones, citizen science officerObservatree] 
So, I nominated David Griffith for the Bluebell Award. He certainly is a guardian for woods and trees. He's been volunteering with the Observatree project since it started in 2014 and since then he’s made a significant contribution to the project. 

[David Griffith - volunteer Observatree tree health surveyor] 
I was due to retire and I heard something about the Woodland Trust planting trees on the radio one morning and went online to just find out more. Saw some volunteering opportunities and it went from there.   

So, Observatree is a partnership project. The Woodland Trust works with National Trust, Forestry Commission, Forest Research and Fera to create an early warning system for pests and diseases across the UK.  

And the idea is to have a citizen science network across the country with volunteers who are trained to spot various pests and diseases of trees. Ash dieback is one of the priority pests and diseases and that’s one that I’ve done quite a lot of surveying for across Wales.  

At the beginning of the project, we were just asked to go out and become familiar with our local trees and woods. Well, I was driving to visit family in Pembrokeshire and noticed there was clearly ash dieback on the side of the roads so I asked Helen if it would be alright for me to extend my range and record ash dieback on my route to Pembrokeshire. I was given the go-ahead for that, so I did that and then it extended from the route to Pembrokeshire to South and Mid Wales, and to-date I think I’ve recorded over 90 different hectads, that’s 10-kilometre squares.  

He seems to be a bit of a man on a mission to find chalara in every hectad across the country of Wales and he seems to have achieved that. He’s reported more than 70 tree alert reports, which is really valuable data, to our tree health teams at the Forestry Commission, because it helps us to better understand the distribution of that disease. 

I think Helen as a project leader for volunteers has been excellent because, from my point of view, I’ve said can I do this and she said yes, and if you allow people togive them a little bit of free rein to go and do it, they will do more for you, and so I found that very useful.  

David’s such an exceptional volunteer. He's really gone above and beyond what we’ve asked him to do. We ask our volunteers to do 12 surveys a year, he’s done hundreds. He’s done over a thousand hours of surveying time which is exceptional and really shows how dedicated he is, and that’s why it was so easy to nominate him for Volunteer of the Year. 

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