Gordon Shaw, Volunteer Warden at Rivermead Community nature reserve tells us about why volunteering is important to him...

Rivermead Community nature reserve has the River Ray flowing through it and nestles between two factory estates, a sewage works and a dual carriageway. Doesn’t sound very attractive does it but this reserve provides a vital link in a green corridor through Swindon from the Marlborough Downs to the Cotswold Water Park consisting of meadows, tree mounds, hedgerows and scrapes it provides a habitat for numerous species.

I started volunteering on this reserve in 2000 when Wiltshire Wildlife Trust had an agreement with Swindon Borough Council to manage the site. I had a little experience of volunteering on another reserve, but this site was on my doorstep and I took it to heart. Getting involved with the River Ray restoration scheme, putting the bends back into the canalised river was very rewarding and the training given by the Trust on such things as chain sawing and brush cutting was invaluable. Starting as a volunteer and then progressing to a Volunteer Warden was really rewarding and shows, even if you haven’t had any or little experience in nature volunteering you can progress to lead a team of volunteers.

Little egret

It’s so rewarding volunteering on this site as although you are in an urban environment you make the site a perfect habit for many species such as water voles, great crested newts, grass snakes, little egrets and kingfishers. Planting and laying hedges, thinning the tree mounds, brush cutting scallops to encourage butterflies all this and more with a wonderful group of volunteers who are more like a family. They are so loyal that in fact we are nearly at maximum capacity for the reserve but come along and I’m sure if we even have to have volunteering on another day we can accommodate you.

If you would like to know more about our volunteering opportunities get in touch by emailing [email protected] or taking a look at our volunteering pages

Pictures by: Tom Hayek and Gordon Shaw