Alan & Rosemary Nottage volunteer with A Rocha at Foxearth Meadows Nature reserve which occupies a floodplain on the northern border of Essex and Suffolk. “We joined in Winter 2019, just in time to dig out some sludge from the pond”. More times than not, they come by bike but still have bags of energy to put into the work task.
How did you get involved in volunteering at Foxearth Meadows in the first place?
We don’t work on Fridays (who wants to work five days a week?) and had been looking around for somewhere to get involved where we would be making a positive contribution to the environment while having fun and expending energy. In the Churches Together email, we saw that Foxearth Meadows were looking for volunteers, so we thought, ‘Why not?’
We felt this was a way to help others and help create an environment for people to be free to discover and explore the richness that this world has to offer while also giving nature a hand to do what it does best.
Living in Sudbury, Foxearth is only a short cycle away. Uphill on the way in, but nicely downhill once we are exhausted having completed a day’s graft.
What are the pluses and minuses of being part of the volunteering team?
The team is made up of a great bunch of people. The work is varied and interesting. It’s great to be able to be outdoors doing something active; no two weeks are the same. Some days we will be strimming and raking to remove the grass. On other days we are digging out a stream.
The only downside is that there is so much to do and never enough time to do everything, and I get told to go home (says, Alan!)
You both fit volunteering work in with ‘normal’ jobs. What do you do with the rest of your week?
Alan works for SIM, a Christian charity based in Cambridge. The job is mainly fighting with computers and sometimes winning. It uses a lot of brain capacity but also very sedentary. Working days being based at a desk, means physical work outdoors helps maintain a balance.
Rosemary works part-time as a practice nurse. In our current climate, this can be pretty intense and, at times, stressful, so it’s good to do something completely different, get outdoors and at the same time get some exercise – which she keeps advocating for her patients.
You are members of New Life Church, which usually meets in a local secondary school. Does your Christian faith have any bearing for you on your conservation volunteering?
We feel we are very blessed in our freedom to work part-time. We feel it is right to use our spare time and energy doing something useful. There is something special about being close to nature and God’s creation. It’s awesome to look at the little bugs, birds and plants and wonder how they just work.
What would you say to anyone interested in visiting the reserve or joining the volunteering team?
What are you waiting for? Grab your wellies and get stuck in. Don’t pay money to sweat in a gym. Come to Foxearth Meadows and do it for free. You even get cake some weeks.
How important are volunteers in helping your organisation function and fulfil its mission?
Our Reserve Managers in Foxearth Meadows, Essex and Wolf Fields, Southall, are supported by a team of volunteers helping with our practical conservation work, public events, and data collection. Our volunteers help our reserves thrive. We welcome people of all faiths and none and offer a wide range of volunteering opportunities to suit all abilities. Join us at our weekly work parties to learn new skills in the fresh air and exercise as part of a friendly team.
A Rocha UK is a Christian charity working to protect and restore the natural world and committed to equipping Christians and churches in the UK to care for the environment.