A hard working and passionate North Yorkshire volunteer was praised for his contributions at the 2019 Woodland Trust Volunteer Awards which took place at Kelham Hall, Nottinghamshire on Sunday 17 November.
The awards ceremony, hosted by Trust chairman Baroness Young, celebrated all of the good work that volunteers had done in the past year.
The Trust has 3,470 roles filled by volunteers who undertake invaluable work for trees, woods and nature across the UK. Without them its fight to protect and create woodlands would not be as strong.
Keith Wilkinson, a volunteer warden who has volunteered with the Trust for over 30 years, won the Bluebell award.
The Bluebell award is for volunteers that stand out for their work in our woodlands providing practical support and being the guardian of our woods and trees on the ground.
Keith has been a volunteer with the Woodland Trust since 1985 when he volunteered to help with the first Trust appeal to raise funds to buy the initial 25 acres of Nidd Gorge, which is now one of northern England’s key welcome sites.
Keith lives locally to the site and his passion and determination in caring for and protecting the site are second to none, which over the years has led to his name becoming synonymous with Nidd Gorge.
As well as being a Trust volunteer he was instrumental in setting up and leading Bilton Conservation Volunteers, a group that also carries out practical conservation work on the Nidd Gorge site.
In 1992 Keith took on a volunteer role as Woodland Trust champion, heading up the second successful Trust appeal to buy another 110 acres of Nidd Gorge.
Paul Bunton, the Trust’s engagement and communication officer said:
“I nominated Keith as he has worked and campaigned tirelessly over the years for Nidd Gorge, to ensure its ongoing management and protection. He is the Woodland Trust’s eyes and ears on the ground. He patrols, surveys, protects and campaigns.
“Keith is always there to call upon and is a great source of knowledge and help in all matters concerning Nidd Gorge, and is the true guardian of this wonderful place.”
Baroness Young said:
“The commitment shown by all of our volunteers is nothing short of outstanding. Their contributions are so valuable and we were delighted to host this event to recognise their work.
“We really value each of our volunteers who so generously give their time and skills freely to help us to achieve our aims. They give us so much practical support on the ground, where it is most needed, to help us manage woodlands, protect trees and raise awareness.
“The contribution made by volunteers should not be underestimated. They are passionate and hardworking. They are the lifeblood of many of our projects and their efforts make such a big difference.”
Speaking at the event, Trust chief executive Darren Moorcroft highlighted some of the major initiatives the charity is currently working on, including the Big Climate Fightback which aims to get more than a million people to pledge to plant a tree on the run up to a mass day of planting across the UK on November 30.
Everyone attending the awards ceremony was presented with a native sapling which they were encouraged to plant as part of the initiative.