Jo Mowday tells us why she loves to be involved in volunteering at Conigre Mead nature reserve...

I have very much enjoyed volunteering at Conigre Mead nature reserve in Melksham since 2008. It is an urban nature reserve on the banks of the River Avon.

The reserve is used daily by dog walkers and people passing through on the way to the shops. It used to be a field before Melksham bypass was built but has been transformed over the last 30 years to a woodland area. It has  grassy glades and ponds and is crossed by three footpaths. It seems like a peaceful oasis in the middle of the bustle of town. Kingfishers and herons have been seen flying over the river and in the summer butterflies and dragonflies are common sights.

Conigre Mead volunteers meet once a month on the third Saturday morning to keep the reserve tidy for visitors. This involves grass mowing, strimming, scrub and nettle clearance, tree pruning and occasional pond maintenance. The footpaths require regular treatment with a flame thrower to keep the edges weed free - a favourite task for one of our volunteers!

I used to take part in the practical conservation tasks but following an accident in 2011 I have long-term back problems and cannot do the physical work. However, the reserve has a shipping container which serves as a shed to keep the tools and also is home to a gas ring and kettle. I have taken over the role of ‘caterer’ and provide tea,  coffee and all important chocolate biscuits for a mid morning break! This provides a social focus and gives the volunteers an opportunity to talk to like-minded people about environmental issues and engage in general chit chat.

For me being a member of Conigre Mead volunteers gives me a feeling of being useful despite having limited physical capabilities. The other volunteers are kind and supportive and over the years have become good friends. Do please come and join us to help us manage the reserve for the people of Melksham!