Our valuable volunteers

Volunteers support our work in a vast variety of ways from clearing scrub, filing at head office, checking our grazing stock to inspiring families. Read about some of our volunteers to see the many different ways they support us, and why they volunteer with us.

Volunteers are vital to the overall success of Norfolk Wildlife Trust and their ongoing support and commitment is highly valued and appreciated. Collectively, the Wildlife Trusts have over 40,000 volunteers, the difference they make is enormous. Whether you are looking for a social activity, work experience, to get closer to wildlife or simply feel passionate about the Trust's work, we would love to hear from you.

Meet our volunteers who make up NWT's Council of Trustees

Bradbury family are now volunteering at Cley

Bradbury family
We are a family of four: Katrina and Alan (40), Ethan (12) and Amelia (9).  We’ve always had an interest in wildlife and the environment but like many people we started coming to Cley for the cake and the view.  We would occasionally venture out onto the reserve for a short walk but no serious bird watching.  However, what we did start to do was attend the children and adult events; we’ve done animal tracking, pond dipping, bat detecting, moth trapping and wildlife filming.  The events and the education centre created a real sense of community and learning, giving us a place to indulge our interest in wildlife.  As part of their Christmas presents last year, instead of toys, our children adopted an Adelie penguin, giraffe and puffin and I don’t think that would have happened without Cley being the place of exploration and learning that the education centre makes it.

Given how much we have enjoyed Cley and its wildlife we decided that we wanted to give something back by becoming volunteers. We’ve been going out as a family once a week onto the reserve recording the wildlife we see. The excellent hides across the reserve, including on the east bank, make this possible even for a family in the worst weather.  It has inspired us all, with it deepening mine and Katrina’s knowledge of the birds and the children coming home and drawing pictures of shelducks and bearded tits.

Ethan loves being ‘immersed in the wild’ on the reserve and Amelia ‘ loves birdwatching in the hides’ and they both ‘really love the cake!’ Everything that Cley does has given us a wonderful opportunity to take part in and teach the children about wildlife and conservation first hand.
Rachel Pryor

Rachel Pryor
Rachel is one of our volunteers at Cley Marshes helping visitors on the reserve and in the bird hides.  “I have been interested in birds and bird watching since the age of 13. I am not a twitcher, as such, but I love watching birds and listening to their songs wherever I am. Being on the reserve each week is an absolute treat. The reserve guides are out and about whatever the weather and it can get quite wild out there, but that just adds to the pleasure and of course the magnificence of seeing 2,000 pink footed geese fly over, or a huge flock of golden plover. What is also special is sharing these sights and experiences with our visitors, some of whom are regulars and others who have never been before. We have some visitors who know the reserve well and who are extremely knowledgeable. It is great listening to their experiences and sharing their expertise on bird behavior and identification. Then there are other visitors who have no previous knowledge of bird watching, or what they are seeing, and who are extremely grateful when the birds are pointed out and identified.

"I think some of my best moments are when I am with a group of visitors and we are on the board walk and hear a bird singing, for instance, a wren, and they are absolutely amazed that such a small bird can produce such a glorious song and they go away in wonderment.

"I remember showing a young family around the reserve and their 6-year-old daughter seemed to have a natural ability to identify and remember the birds that we were watching. We were sitting in the hide together when suddenly a peregrine falcon flew past very quickly and very close to us. We both spotted it at the same time and were equally as excited. I reflected afterwards that she would remember the sight of that Peregrine for the rest of her life.

"I have to say that being a female reserve guide is a bit of a rarity and there should be more of us! Perhaps there is a general feeling that bird watching is a bit of a male preserve and sometimes walking into a hide full of men can be a little daunting. But I find that as soon as I sit down and ask what they have seen, conversation soon starts and common ground is found.”
David Rigby, photo by Mark Amiss

David Rigby – Reserves Assistant Bure & Ant
David has been volunteering since 2011, he is part of a dedicated team who help to look after our reserves in the Broads, undertaking a variety of strenuous work such as brushcutting, tree clearance, dyke clearing and whatever other tasks need to be done on the day.  David enjoys getting out in the fresh air and watching the wildlife, “volunteering has increased my enjoyment of wildlife, I see and am aware of much more.  I enjoy seeing the processes involved in managing the reserves to help wildlife flourish”  David has a busy life but tries to ensure that he has as many Tuesdays free as possible so he can get out and join the team. “There is satisfaction in looking back at the end of the day and seeing what we have done, after we have cleared 300 yards of dyke and can look back and see the neat edges, it looks good!”
Jean Bishop

Jean Bishop – Visitor Centre Volunteer Ranworth
Jean has been volunteering at the Ranworth visitor centre since 2012 after moving to Norfolk and wanting to get involved and learn more about the county and its wildlife.  Jean enjoys having the time to talk to a wide variety of people in a relaxed way. “Everyone is interesting, with a different story to tell, and I am learning all the time.  Since volunteering my knowledge has grown, and new interests have been found such as in identifying many different aspects of wildlife. Talking to visitors is a two way experience I can help answer their questions but I also learn a lot from them.”   

“Ranworth is a unique place, I enjoy starting my day by walking along the boardwalk. You come from civilisation and enter a different magic world, full of bird song, to arrive at the floating visitor centre and the peace of  Ranworth Broad.”  “I have been lucky enough to meet most of the other volunteers and boat guides at Ranworth and feel part of a big family, whom I am always pleased to meet up with again at the start of each new season.”
Colin Blaxill

Colin Blaxill
Colin has been a volunteer on the reception desk at our Cley Visitor Centre since June 2005. He describes it as his “best day of the week”. Colin meets a great variety of visitors, including those who regularly come on Mondays, visitors from all parts of the world, and even the occasional television personality. As well as talking to visitors Colin also takes money for sales and donations and recruits new members. 
Elizabeth Dack, education events volunteer

ELizabeth Dack, education event volunteer
Elizabeth has been a long-time volunteer with NWT, who started by sending local photographs to our online gallery. She still sends in some lovely photos, but also helps regularly at our education and family events. She says: “I get out and about to events where I meet people from all walks of life, different ages, locals, visitors and holiday makers. I tell them about all the work NWT are doing around Norfolk to help protect the future for our children and grandchildren.”
Kathleen Rosewarne

Kathleen Rosewarne, Volunteer Proof Reader
Kathleen has been a volunteer with our in-house PR & Communications team since 2011, editing and proofreading several NWT communications, such as our Tern magazine, the Annual Report, and the Reserves Handbook. Kathleen says of her volunteering: “I like being able to use my professional skills to help conservation; I used to work in conservation, but now I don’t, it’s great to still feel involved. It gives me chance to use my natural history knowledge too. I see the pages of Tern at early stages while they are being written, and it’s nice to be able to read about work being done at places I’ve visited and enjoyed.”

Kathleen also comments "I think Norfolk Wildlife Trust is so worth supporting, as it manages many great places for wildlife across Norfolk where I have been lucky enough to enjoy wildlife, so volunteering feels like putting something back.”
Geoff Dent

Geoff Dent , HQ Volunteer Conservation Team
Geoff has been volunteering at Bewick House in Norwich two days a week for over 10 years. After retiring, he wanted to volunteer for an organisation that he felt in tune with: “I wanted to help the Trust because it speaks up for wildlife, and wildlife doesn’t have a voice”. Working with the Conservation Team, Geoff maintains records for the County Wildlife Sites and Churchyard projects. He says that the work really has enabled him to expand his knowledge of Norfolk whilst helping NWT: “My role frees up the staff to use their specialist skills more in the field, so I feel I’m a cog in the wheel that keeps many parts of Norfolk special for wildlife.”
Tabs Taberham – Volunteer Livestock Checker

Tabs Taberham, Volunteer Livestock Checker
Tabs is part of a dedicated team of volunteer checkers and staff who monitor all livestock on our reserves. Tabs checks the ponies at Buxton Heath weekly, checking the animals are free from cuts, bruises, lameness, their hoofs are in good condition and general behaviour and well-being. NWT has enabled Tabs to receive specialist stock checkers training via the Rare Breeds Survival Trust. He says: “I enjoy how the ponies trust me and permit me to carry out the inspections without bother. l also enjoy the exercise l get in looking for them each week and being able to carry out my hobby of wildlife photography at the same time.”
Joan Gregory, NWT volunteer photo: Alan Marchbank

Joan Gregory
Joan Gregory has been a volunteer at Ranworth Broad Visitor Centre for 9 years, and now she’s retired she is able to fit her volunteering around the needs of the Centre. Sundays are a particularly hard day to fill, and Joan says “My husband likes to watch political programmes on a Sunday morning, so I am only too happy to do my volunteering then. I prefer to volunteer in the mornings, and half a day is enough otherwise my back starts to hurt”.
Asked what she enjoys most about her volunteering, Joan is emphatic in her response. “Meeting and greeting – I used to be a nurse, so approaching and talking to people comes naturally to me, you could call it my ‘bedside manner’. We get lovely visitors at Ranworth, they’re very generous.”
There are some things Joan likes less, but that’s rarely a problem: “I’m a bit of a technophobe so don’t like to use the tills, but there is always someone else around to help with that.”
Joan feels she has a real bond with her fellow volunteers: “I also like to give other volunteers lifts to training and events, as we can do our bit for the environment for us all to go in one car. I took a car-load of fellow volunteers from Ransworth to the 90th anniversary event at Pensthorpe last year.”
Joan is a great example of how you can find a volunteering opportunity to match your skills and abilities, and how you can fit your volunteering into your family and personal life.