Heather Wagstaff from Middleton, was absolutely delighted to not only win a national volunteering award – but to have it presented by her hero, BBC Countryfile presenter and native Yorkshireman, John Craven!
Heather was nominated by The Conservation Volunteers at Skelton Grange Environment Centre for the Big Lottery and Natural England’s Access to Nature Awards, to recognise the role of volunteers in enabling many thousands of adults and children to enjoy playing, learning and improving their health and wellbeing outdoors.
Heather received the award in front of hundreds of people, including her daughter Lisa, at a ceremony held at the Botanical Gardens in Birmingham. She said:
“I loved meeting John Craven. I used to watch him on Newsround, and now on Countryfile. I’ve invited him to come and visit Skelton Grange next time he is back in Leeds!”
Heather joined Skelton Grange Environment Centre in Leeds as a volunteer 18 months ago, looking for a change in career direction after being made redundant. She had heard about Skelton Grange’s environmental education and practical conservation volunteering opportunities, and signed up to a four days a week volunteer officer role that offered both training and hands on work experience.
TCV Area manager Caroline Crossley, who nominated Heather for the award, said “To say that Heather threw herself into volunteering is an absolute understatement!! She has embraced every opportunity offered, takes on any new situation or challenge with immense enthusiasm and is a real joy to have around the place. Very quickly, Heather learnt outdoor education and child management skills, attended courses on different conservation skills such as meadow scything and hedgelaying and got her first aid qualification. Her very positive attitude and competence meant that she was soon leading groups of children on a range of national curriculum linked school days and holiday bushcraft sessions and also leads other adult volunteers with a range of abilities, experiences and additional needs on our open Friday conservation volunteering sessions.”
Caroline added “Whilst volunteering Heather has supported over 5000 visiting children, and worked with over 200 other volunteers. She has also given so much to other people at a time in her life when others would have really struggled to manage. She was the main carer for her husband who was terminally ill, and who sadly passed away during the time she has been volunteering. She is so kind, thoughtful and inclusive – her ability to see what people need and can offer means that she is such a valuable person in our team, not only sharing her own skills and mentoring others, but really encouraging other people to feel that they are capable and valued too.”
Anybody interested in volunteering or taking part in a wonderful range of activities at Skelton Grange is welcome to check out the website at: www.tcv.org.uk/skeltongrange