Backwell Environment Trust

...10+ years of conservation, protection, improvement...

  • The impressive finished stretch of rebuilt wall - August 2017. See our photo gallery for more pics..

  • The amazing view from the Jubilee Stone

  • Bird watchers enjoying the quarry view from Badgers Wood

  • Volunteers engaged in our late summer meadow scything

  • One of our mystical ancient yew trees

  • The Layers viewpoint in Badgers Wood

  • BET scythers at the JubileeStone

A Volunteer's Tale

A Volunteer's Tale

There many reasons why I turn up for a couple of hours whenever I can on a Monday morning to help with the array of tasks that BET volunteers undertake. But I'll try to keep it brief!

The first point is that it's really worthwhile. We have all had formative wildlife experiences. Mine came when I was out for a walk when I was about 6 years old and saw what must have been a grass snake at the edge of a field in Kent. But there have been many others over the years - ranging from tigers in India to condors in Chile and, equally satisfying, otters near Nailsea. I'm sure you'll have had many experiences of your own. And of course, we've all seen the brilliant BBC Natural History Unit programmes on television. But you don't need me to tell you of the threats that wildlife faces - it's a constant battle, and of course we feel pretty powerless individually to do much about the big issues, like ivory poaching and rainforest destruction. But by helping to conserve wildlife locally, we can all make a small contribution.

But it's not just altruistic. It's simply great to be out in the fresh air. It certainly beats going in to the office on a Monday morning, as I did for 35 years until I stopped work last year. And it helps you keep fit. I do go to the gym, and pound the streets, for exercise during the week but it's just as sapping to do a couple of hours scything on the BET reserves - it certainly makes you swing your hips around! And you learn new skills. The scything is one example, but there have been plenty of others: dry-stone walling, coppicing and path-building, for example. And you learn a lot more about nature, what needs doing at what time of year and why; and just identifying things - I never learned much about trees when I was young, so it is really satisfying to improve my knowledge on that front too.

Next there's the shared satisfaction from being part of a successful team. Several times this year we've set about a seemingly daunting task - scything a meadow, clearing ragwort - and found that we've managed to do all that we planned, and more, within the time available.

But don't get the impression that it's all hard work. It's actually very sociable, both while we're working and at the legendary coffee breaks, which have been known to extend for 45 minutes within the allotted two hours. Excellent biscuits invariably turn up (I must remember to bring some myself!), and there is good conversation (not obligatory though - some prefer to keep working!). And finally it doesn't matter (much) if you make mistakes. Two of us did just that in a fit of enthusiasm in the summer when we removed the wrong type of thistle. I don't think that the Reserve Manager was exactly pleased but he is very philosophical on the basis that things always grow back....

So, all in all, what is there not to like? If you haven't come before, do come and join us - a weekly email will tell you when and where. Just let Ian (463315) or Peter (851416) know that you might be interested, and they can add you to the mailing list. And if you can't make it on a Monday because work or other commitments rule that out, there's always the fourth Saturday of each month (changed to the third Sat from May 2017), where the same arrangements, and satisfaction levels, apply. Oh, and it doesn't need to be for the full two hours - I'm notorious for arriving late or leaving early (or both) but the important thing, like the Olympics, is the taking part (though not necessarily every week!).

We look forward to seeing you whenever you can make it!

Martin Brasher

Volunteer and ex-Trustee

© 2017 Backwell Environment Trust