New Forest volunteer fair draws in over 700 buzzing participants
A RECORD-BREAKING turnout was reported at this year’s New Forest National Park volunteer fair.
More than 700 budding helpers attended the fair at Lyndhurst community centre which offered people the chance to browse hundreds of voluntary opportunities from 50 local groups.
Oliver Crosthwaite-Eyre, national park authority chairman, said: “We were very pleased with how popular the fair was with visitors and exhibitors. It was undoubtedly our busiest and best year yet.
“The fair is about giving a platform to all the groups in the Forest that are looking for volunteers, bringing them all together in one place at one time to gather as many new recruits as possible.”
He added: “Volunteers contribute hundreds of thousands of hours to caring for the New Forest each year and this fair is one of their main methods of recruitment.”
The event was officially opened by Gemma Wilks and Charlie Davis, volunteers who have spent hours of their time helping to reduce plastic waste and protect wildlife over the last year.
Charlie, from Southampton, said: “I’ve been volunteering with the New Forest National Park Authority’s Our Past, Our Future project for four months now. I joined to learn new skills, gain experience and boost my employability.
“It was fantastic to see so many contributing organisations in one place at the volunteer fair and it really highlighted what work and dedication goes into keeping the Forest a vibrant, caring place.”
She added: “I want to really encourage as many people as possible to get involved and give their time to support voluntary organisations in the New Forest that are working to protect this special place.”
The volunteer fair tied up with the Year of Green Action, a 12-month initiative to encourage more people from all backgrounds to get involved in projects to improve the natural world and mark the 70th anniversary of national parks.
Alison Talbot, from Citizens Advice New Forest, said: “This was a really great volunteer fair. From our perspective we found it a really useful and productive day.
“We had serious interest in volunteering for us from a wide range of people. We will be following up on this and inviting people in to find out more about our volunteering opportunities.”
Volunteering roles can be found in the 2019 New Forest Volunteer Guide at www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/volunteering