Wednesday, 16 April 2014

The value of volunteering

A personal view from Green Hampshire’s Adam Manning in reply to a popular article by Tim Sykes on volunteering.

The beauty of nature has always been a wonderful source of inspiration to me. The enigmatic mystery of the night sky, the energizing vitality of a spring day or the sharp redness of a ladybird’s back. Lustrous greens, entwining tendrils, rough barks and the silver birch; the effulgent diversity of our natural world, its expansive vistas and rich minutiae. Our Earth is an endless fecundity of soaring exhilaration, soothing calmness and refreshment for the soul.

With the beauty of nature doing so much for me, I’ve always wanted to do something in return.  This became coupled with a growing awareness and concern about environmental challenges and the end result was a lot of motivation to get involved!

In my part of Southampton there is a pebble beach called Weston Shore.  When I was growing up, it was often the butt of some unkind jokes due to a perception of neglect and decay.  The shore presented itself as a good challenge to get stuck into and during the nineties, starting small, some friends and I began regular litter picks along the shore with the kind assistance of Southampton City Council.

This was a really satisfying activity and the litter picks slowly became more popular.  At the Council’s prompting, the Friends of Weston Shore group was formed. Litter is not only unsightly and diminishes the beauty of nature but is also a pressing environmental problem. Many of us have heard the news stories about litter being strewn across our oceans and ending up killing wildlife. A clean up is a great chance to get a grip on this challenge.

Taking part in a clear up on the shore gives a real sense of achievement.  To look back and see the area that you and your friends have been working on looking clean and resplendent is very rewarding.  Knowing that your work, the energy you have put in has lead to the place looking better is.. well, to me there are not many feelings as good as that!

Max from Green Hampshire with friend
There are other benefits as well of course.  This type of work is social and a good way to make new friends. You are also in the outdoors with fresh air and maybe (although it’s a bit of a risk in England) some sunshine.  I’ve often noticed that after a clean up, seagulls tend to congregate in the area your group has worked on; clearly they like it too.

Another group I’ve worked with is the Sholing Valley Study Centre.  Sholing Valleys includes Miller’s Pond which has now been designated as a Local Nature Reserve. It’s a lovely oasis of calm within Southampton and they hold regular conservation days.

Volunteers can enjoy taking part in the vital conservation work they carry out and learn new skills. There are also nature watches for younger volunteers and older participants can go on guided walks and take part in nature surveys.  Very kindly,they also provide a free lunch for their volunteers!
Green Hampshire at Sholing Valleys
The volunteers that run the centre and look after the area are friendly and welcoming and they were awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service for their endless energy and effort in looking after Miller’s Pond and its surrounding area. 

Being a volunteer has done so much for me – I hope it does for you too.  There are so many groups involved in this area and Green Hampshire’s goal is to spread the word about this to encourage volunteers to get stuck in and make a difference!

Miller's Pond - a Local Nature Reserve

Saturday, 5 April 2014

New category and new sponsors at launch of CPRE Hampshire Countryside Awards 2014

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) Hampshire branch has launched its annual Countryside Awards.

This growing, vibrant awards scheme invites entries from projects that enhance the environment, such as recycling, conservation, access to the countryside and incorporating green credentials into business. Entry is via a simple, downloadable form at

The principal supporters of the scheme are Steve’s Leaves, a bunch of pioneering farmers who grow tasty, nutritious baby leaves. They do something called nature friendly farming, where 10% of the land is dedicated to nature and the creation of habitats to encourage wildlife.

Two new corporate sponsors have come on board in 2014. Radian supports a new category, ‘Green Buildings’, which will search for examples of good environmental practice in building design and construction. Andrea Smith, Director of Development & New Business at Radian said: “Alongside developing housing for local people, we hold similar values to CPRE in our common goal of developing sustainable communities through community development as well as through bricks and mortar. Radian has a long standing connection with innovation and sustainability both in refurbished and new build properties, and so we are proud to be sponsors of this new, ‘Green Buildings’.

Dee Haas of CPRE Hampshire, the Right Worshipful the Mayor of Southampton, Ivan White, with staff from Radian and the Round About Cafe.
Dee Haas of CPRE Hampshire, the Right Worshipful the Mayor of 
Southampton, Ivan White, with staff from Radian and the Round About Cafe.

Dutton Gregory Solicitors is the new sponsor for the Rural Enterprise category which is designed to discover the best in private and public sector activities benefiting Hampshire’s rural environment. Matt Gilks of Dutton Gregory Solicitors said: “We are delighted to sponsor the Rural Enterprise category of the Award scheme this year. As a progressive law firm we work with our clients to consider the opportunities for promoting environmental enhancement and protection. I am excited Dutton Gregory can support a showcase of the most thriving and vibrant enterprises to benefit our beautiful Hampshire environment."

The Southern Cooperative continues to support the Community and Voluntary category, which recognises the valuable role that community and voluntary organisations play in protecting the environment.

The fourth award category is open to Youth entries, from schools, clubs, colleges and individuals.

The launch event was held at The Round About Cafe, a not-for-profit community cafe near Southampton, supported by Radian. Dee Haas, chairman of CPRE Hampshire said: “This is exactly the kind of rural enterprise we hope to discover, through the awards scheme. The cafe acts as a community hub, which trains volunteers and aims to establish a financially-sustainable business model. It provides healthy meals, freshly made on the premises. They are also developing a local food trail to support local businesses and to reduce their carbon footprint.”

Dee continued: “The Countryside Awards have become very successful. They are designed to celebrate the achievements of those working to maintain and enhance Hampshire’s environment. Year after year we see new and exciting projects from across the county and we would encourage anyone who is eligible to enter.”

To find out more about the categories and entry criteria, please visit, or telephone 01962 841897. 
Notes to editors

1.         A copy of the guidance notes for the awards is available on request to CPRE.

2.         CPRE Hampshire is a small, local charity that stands up for your countryside. We work to influence how we plan our communities to make them better places to live and work, to ensure the countryside is protected for all to enjoy for now and future generations.

Affiliated to national CPRE, which works to influence central Government policy, CPRE Hampshire is run by a dedicated part-time staff and volunteers who care about the countryside.

3.         Steve’s Leaves is a brand of Vitacress Salads Ltd. Steve’s Leaves are a bunch of pioneering farmers who grow tasty, nutritious baby leaves. We do something called nature friendly farming, where 10% of the land is dedicated to nature and the creation of habitats to encourage wildlife.  Further information can be found on   Make friends on facebook and follow Steve’s Leaves @stevesleaves on twitter.

4.         The awards were originally launched in 2007 by CPRE Hampshire, with the support of Hampshire Fare, Hampshire Ambassadors (now Hampshire Enterprise Circle).

For all media enquiries, please contact:-

Keren Burney,
Media and Communications                           Tel:      01730 894123
officer, CPRE Hampshire.                             Mobile: 07876 780065

Michael Rescorle, Director,                            Tel:      01962 841897
CPRE Hampshire                                           Mobile: 07753 303830

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