James Prior- Conservation & Wild Connections Volunteer

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How long have you been volunteering for the Trust?

I started volunteering four years ago through one of their well-being groups. Since then I've joined several different groups including Wild Connections and the ones at Clouts Wood and Morgan's Hill. I volunteer pretty much most days and have earned the nickname 'Machine Cutter' for my cutting skills. I also enjoy monitoring the local wildlife and in 2014 was responsible for adding the most records to Local Record, the Wiltshire & Swindon Biological records Office (WSBRC) recording system.

What inspired you to be a volunteer?

I've always enjoyed being out in the countryside. Volunteering helps to get me out and about and keeps me motivated. It's so rewarding to go back and see how your work has improved an area. Its also a great opportunity to work with people from all sorts of backgrounds. 

What does your volunteer role involve?

So many things! I help the group leaders sort out whats needed for the tasks and I keep the Wild Connections store room tidy.When I'm on task I'll help them by loading and unloading the vans and help to make tea and coffee for the other volunteers. I've also helped to install kissing gates, notice boards, and boardwalks at several of the Trusts Reserves.

What skills have you gathered from working at the Trust?

As far as conservation skills are concerned I've learnt coppicing, dead hedging, small tree felling, brushcutting and general woodland management skills. 

What do you enjoy most about volunteering?

I enjoy the banter you get with some of the groups. I find that getting out and volunteering  on the Trusts reserves is good for my health and wellbeing. Working outside in nature has improved my quality of life and my goal would be to train as a volunteer leader. 

What do you do when you aren't volunteering?

I do a lot of landscape photography when I'm out and about helping on reserves or recording for WSBRC. I'm also an advanced genealogist and have been researching the history of the parishes and villages around Swindon because of my family connections in that area.