Volunteer Spotlight: John Coadwell

Blog post by John Coadwell on 31 Oct, 2023
As part of our volunteer spotlight series, we're celebrating the work of our dedicated education volunteer, John Coadwell.

I have always had an interest in science and nature. Over half a century ago I graduated from UEA and thirty years ago I achieved an Open University degree in Computing. I am a scientist, a biologist.

For forty years I worked near Cambridge in the area of molecular biology, genetics and bioinformatics. I retired thirteen years ago and moved six years ago to Wymondham.

I used to live in the village of Burwell, next to Wicken Fen. When I retired I volunteered there and learnt how to pond dip and all about mini beast hunting, working with schools and local families. After moving towards Norwich it seemed logical to volunteer with the Norfolk Wildlife Trust.

As I age I find I can only walk short distances so can not move about the reserves as I once did. I still like meeting people. My main role is as an Education volunteer but I also volunteer as an Independent  Events Team member at county shows. My science career left me with the ability to talk about science and nature to all age groups, from 3 to 103. I interact using a series of models following the life cycles of different organisms. I have collected a range of “props” including portable microscopes and animated toys.

Volunteering with NWT gets me out from under my wife’s feet. I am constantly learning new things from the people I meet, especially the young NWT personnel.
Apart from dyke dipping at Thorpe during the summer I do not have a regular reserve. The nature of my volunteering means that I can be anywhere in Norfolk. In a council park, a village hall or a school playing ground. Whilst visiting the villages and shows I am seeing parts of East Anglia that I never knew existed although I have been a traveller in East Anglia all my life.
Would you recommend others to volunteer with the NWT?

Yes! As an old codger you sometimes think you have run your course. When you meet new people,
especially the young, you realise that your knowledge and experience can be of use to others.
My memory for names and faces has never been good and these days is fast fading. However each time I go out I meet happy smiling people who often remember me. Even if I can not reciprocate! Many volunteers have remarkable skills gained through life which they bring and share with each other and with the community.
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