50 years of volunteering for Dorset's wildlife

Continuing our series of blogs from volunteers for Volunteers' Week 2021, Bob and Barbara Steedman give an insight into their fantastic work volunteering for Dorset Wildlife Trust for 50 years. A huge thank you to them for all of their work for Dorset's wildlife over the decades.

Volunteering has been a very enjoyable part of our lives since Helen Brotherton introduced us to Dorset Wildlife Trust in 1971. 
 
It started with manning the Dorset Wildlife Trust Exhibition caravan when our children were quite young. Kimmeridge was the highlight of event venues. We were able to promote the wildlife trust and try to recruit new members as well as selling bric-a-brac. 
 
When the children were old enough we renewed our interest in conservation at Sopley working with Martin Pirie. At that time group leaders were volunteers being advised by Rob Brunt. In nearly forty years we think we have worked on all the reserves in east Dorset plus a few ‘away days’ to other parts of the county. In the last twenty years or so this has been with Andy Fale but we continued with our other monthly groups. New skills learnt included hedge laying, brush cutting, coppicing and besom making under careful supervision. This is quite apart from the many friendships made and very healthy exercise.
 
Surveying wildlife on the reserves has been very interesting with a few memorable moments. Counting the green-winged orchids at Corfe Meadows was always a challenge particularly with Nigel trying his best to organise us all with ropes across the field. In addition to surveys of Dartford warblers, silver-studded blue butterflies, marsh gentians, etc, we helped Andy with identifying moths at monthly moth traps at Beacon Hill.

Another activity we were involved with over many years was packing magazines and advertising leaflets into envelopes for hand delivery around the county. Bundles of envelopes were then delivered to numerous local volunteers for delivery to individual households. Initially we started at Forston until the operation got too big and the BCP and Wimborne part was transferred to Beacon Hill. Finally the operation was automated and all the magazines delivered by post.
 
The annual ‘Walks for Wildlife’ which lasted for quite a few years in the early 2000’s required several volunteers, including us, to man the check points and refreshment stations, and to record the progress of the walkers and award the finishing tokens at the end.
 
One of our biggest contributions has been helping to organise and run the local Wimborne Group. This included Bob being treasurer for seventeen years.
 
Our interest in wildlife has certainly made lockdown and Covid restrictions relatively easy for us to cope with. Local heaths and Corfe Barrows Reserve have been walked frequently and we have been able to share our interest in the butterflies and birds with other walkers we have met. Local people certainly seem to appreciate the work that Dorset Wildlife Trust has done to open up the Canford land. Once butterfly transects were allowed we were pleased to have walkers from the Sopley work party to record the butterflies each week. Other transects have also kept us busy.

Garden moth trapping has been very productive and interesting this year, but we have missed sharing this interest at Beacon Hill.

Bob and Barbara Steedman