Mary is Chair of the Forest of Dean Local History Society (LHS) and has been a part of shaping Foresters’ Forest from the very beginning. Before the programme even had a name, she and the LHS had a goal to make local history accessible to children and young people in the Forest, and this passion has shaped her role as a member of the Board.
Mary has had links with the Forest for a long time and was a regular visitor for many years before she finally moved here in 2008 when she retired. She quickly became an active member of the LHS. “As an ‘incomer’ it felt important to get involved with Forest of Dean things to feel grounded,” said Mary. “Working with the Foresters’ Forest programme has been an extension of this”, she explained, “contributing in this small way has given me more of a feeling of belonging”.
There has been much about Mary’s role on the Board that has given her a sense of achievement. “Being involved in planning and thinking at a higher level has been satisfying in my retirement,” she said. “I’ve enjoyed meeting and working with new people, and seeing ideas come to fruition.”
Now nearly half way through the Programme’s funded period, Mary has seen the aspirations of herself and the LHS being realised with a successful education programme engaging both Primary and Secondary Schools in local history and heritage. “Lydbrook Primary School has been a real ‘trail blazer’ in linking their curriculum to the built, natural and cultural heritage of the Dean,” said Mary. "When the children of Lydbrook School came to tell our Society’s members about their work involving local history everybody was fascinated."
The work of schools such as Lydbrook is now being spread to other local schools through schools sharing days. “It’s been really pleasing to see teachers from across the area visiting Foresters’ Forest projects on our mini bus tours, discovering more about how they can build the rich heritage of the area into teaching and learning,” said Mary. “I’ve also been delighted that so many local school children have been able to gain hands on experience of archaeology through visiting our community digs in Yorkley, Soudley and Ruardean in recent years.”
Mary feels that she has benefited personally through her voluntary role. “I’ve learned a lot about the different organisations working locally and the important work that they do”, she explained. Mary also feels extremely proud of everything achieved so far by the Foresters’ Forest programme and looks forward to seeing this being built upon over the next few years.
You might be surprised what you find!
From creating habitats for our wildlife or improving our waterways, to recording oral histories or finding old photos, there’s always something going on to get involved in!