Jon spent his career as an outdoor pursuits instructor, biology teacher and then with schools developing the first interactive whiteboards. Teaching, promoting knowledge and experiences and enjoying the natural world has always meant a lot to him. When he retired, he became a keen green woodworker as part of an established group of ‘Bodgers’ near Bristol. “I was hooked on green woodwork and when we moved to the Forest of Dean two years ago I planned to continue my hobby at home. Then I met Scott Baine [from the Rewild Project who leads the Foresters’ Forest Newleaf Project at Kensley Sheds] and realised that I could continue with my ‘bodging’ as part of a group, and continue to share my interests with others!” Jon said. “They needed help with the pole-lathes so I went to Kensley Sheds and did that. I started supporting Newleaf participants to try lathing. It has worked out great really, I didn’t really have space at home and it is much more enjoyable to be out in the Forest!”
Jon explained that he really feels part of the team at Kensley Sheds: “I’m always doing lots of jobs around the place as a volunteer; building shelters, improving the site, finishing jobs off, chopping wood. It great to be part of developing the site and plans for the future. I feel that I’m part of an organisation; there is a real sense of belonging and ownership.”
Jon also met Melanie Getgood (project leader for Worcester Walk Community Project) at the same time and started to volunteer at Worcester Walk. “I’ve volunteered on nature reserves before so liked the idea of Worcester Walk Community Project. I like being outside and active so it was ideal. I don’t want to sit around and twiddle my thumbs in my retirement!” Said Jon. “At Worcester Walk I’ve been involved in group working parties, bracken bashing, planting new hedges and improving old ones.” He said. “I’ve also helped support regular visits to the site from Coalway Primary School and the Fire Cadets who come to volunteer one evening a week. It’s been great, active stuff to support and fantastic to see the young ones involved!”
Volunteering for Newleaf and Worcester Walk has been a happy combination for Jon. “The social aspect is great. It all gets you out of the house and seeing people. I really enjoy the laughs and camaraderie. We’ve had some great jokes about pole lathing….” Chuckled Jon. “It’s been nice to find activities that carry on my existing interests too.” He said.
Jon is enthusiastic about future plans at Kensley Sheds and at Worcester Walk. “We’re introducing ‘Woody Wednesdays’ on a weekly basis for people to come along and do some green woodwork with Newleaf. There will also be lots to do at Worcester Walk as the weather improves. I’m excited about the prospect of moving forward with the hedges, pond and orchard. Seeing the fruit trees going in is going to be very pleasing.” He said.