Kevin grew up in Cinderford and the nearby woodland was an important part of his childhood. “Like practically all Forest kids, I spent long hours playing and exploring in the woods near my home. I loved nature studies at school and this lead to me studying forest management up to degree level.” He said. Kevin subsequently changed career paths to become a teacher, but has maintained a strong interest and enthusiasm for the environment and its protection. The Forest of Dean in particular, means a lot to him: “Since the age of 16, I’ve lived in many different places in the UK but I always thought of the Forest as home and knew I would move back here.”
Kevin got involved with Foresters’ Forest after finding out about it at the Magna Carta Anniversary event at Speech House. “I chatted to Deb Cook, the project’s volunteer coordinator. She asked me if I was interested in getting involved, and after hearing about the many interesting projects, I definitely was!” He said. Kevin saw volunteering as a great opportunity to give a meaningful contribution to the amazing place where he lives. “I wanted to use some of my skills and knowledge from my forestry days that had lain dormant for a while. I’d been thinking about doing some volunteering linked to local conservation for a while and this project was the perfect fit for me.”
He is part of the Ancient and Notable Trees (ANT) project. “It has involved being trained in how to recognise, measure and record ancient trees and those which have an important place in the local landscape. I have worked with the project leader, Paul Rutter, and other volunteers to survey areas of the Forest where clusters of these trees occur.” Kevin explained. He has enjoyed all aspects of his volunteering, but a favourite moment was being present at the Christmas Volunteer Thank You event in 2018. “It was heart-warming to hear about all of the amazing work volunteers were doing in different areas of the programme and made me so proud to be a part of it!”
Kevin feels that volunteering on the ANT project has taught him new skills and knowledge: “I have learned details which I did not acquire in 6 years of studying forestry at agricultural college and university. It has given me an appreciation of how incredibly complex and interconnected the natural world is.” He said. The project has also developed Kevin’s connections with his local community. “It has introduced me to some lovely, committed people; a small group of us from Pillowell who met through ANTs are now involved with restoring the local recreation group for the benefit of the village and wildlife.”
Kevin wants to continue to be involved with the ANT project and is extremely pleased to have now added the Pillowell Rec. to his volunteering. “Volunteering for Forester’s Forest has made me realise the impact communities can have on improving their local areas when they are given support and direction.” He said.