Monday, 11 July 2016

Ten years hard labour

Wednesday 6th July 2016

Steve with his certificate of service.
Photograph by Damien Wootten
The photo is of me: smiling and pleased with myself. The day had been a fairly ordinary one for this time of year. A few of us had checked out some of the sites of the near-mythical grass snake, and did what maintenance was needed, pausing only to drink coffee, have a bite to eat, and look at the scenery – the distant view and the detail of the close.

A couple of hours later, back in the Rangers’ office, I had the pleasant surprise of being presented with a certificate and badge in recognition of ten years of volunteering service. It was just a smile and a thank you from Head Ranger, Helen, with supporting murmurs from the other Rangers. There were no speeches or applause, but that was my fault. For, not for the first time, I had failed to show at the latest volunteers’ social do or any of the meetings where others got their award from Mick the Manager. I’m not a fan of meetings, and probably not very sociable either for that matter.

The badge is a nice enough badge, and I shall wear it; the only other badge I wear is the one I got here five years ago. But the certificate has a personal touch. It identifies and acknowledges not just the labouring I do here at Gibside, but those things that are important to me: nature conservation and wildlife surveying - the reasons I joined and what keeps me coming. Of course, it doesn’t mention the rest of the Wednesday Conservation Team and the lovely times we have working and chatting together, or the knowledge and understanding I’ve gained from working alongside the Rangers, or the coffee and bite to eat, gazing at the view, or the simple fact that I just enjoy being at Gibside – for they, too, are good reasons for toiling here these ten years. But the certificate will do very nicely as it is, thank you.

Grey Squirrels - we haven'y seen a Red Squirrel for years.

Blue Damselfly

Common spotted orchids

Art in Walled Garden
 Steve Wootten & Phil Coyne