Isobel Pring, Cheryl Yarham, Justin Hart and the Seal Group Volunteers
Isobel Pring – Somerset Wildlife Trust
Isobel signed up as a lead volunteer for Somerset Wildlife Trust’s newly re-launched ShoreSearch programme in early 2019 and quickly became a valued, highly motivated and organised member of the team. She took on the task of recruiting, organising and supporting other volunteers to make sure the programme ran successfully. Isobel set up an online blog, Facebook page and WhatsApp group to keep everyone up to speed and also created and shared the training videos needed for the volunteers. Throughout the pandemic, she helped to make sure the volunteer group stayed in touch through Zoom training and catch-up meetings. Isobel helped to ensure that ShoreSearch surveys were Covid-secure and risk assessed when they were once again able to take place in person, sanitising equipment and ensuring socially distanced data collection. ShoreSeach has been one of the most successful parts of the Somerset Wildlife Trusts and its success is largely thanks to Isobel’s contributions.
Cheryl Yarham – Cornwall Wildlife Trust
Cheryl is incredibly thoughtful, kind and has been a dedicated and valued member of the marine conservation team at Cornwall Wildlife Trust over the past 4 years, even while working a full-time job. She started as a volunteer in 2017 when she supported the Environmental Records Centre with their Cornish hedgerow mapping work, using technology to map traditional Cornish hedges throughout the country, taking time out of her week to complete the work to a high standard. In 2018, Cheryl started working on the Marine Strandings Network, collating and analysing data about marine organisms found stranded along the Cornwall coast, and soon progressed to assisting with the project’s engagement work to help raise awareness of the issue. Cheryl now coordinates the Seaquest project for Cornwall Wildlife Trust, processing data, running the public sea watchers programme and training new Seaquest volunteers. This project aims to help the public better understand the marine environment around them and protect it for the future. Cheryl represents the volunteers on this programme to a high level and the project could not be delivered successfully without her.
Justin Hart – Alderney Wildlife Trust
Justin joined the Alderney Wildlife Trust as a full-time volunteer in 2017 for the terrestrial bird monitoring team and bought with him a wealth of experience in marine and seabird surveys. He has heavily contributed to the Trust’s Living Seas Programme and seabird monitoring project, particularly for Alderney’s Ramsar Site management plan which is in place after the island was named as a wetland of international importance. Justin has enhanced the Trust’s knowledge of the island’s Grey Seal population and increased the records of subtidal marine species and habitats that are held by the Trust. Justin runs boat trips for marine based surveys and public engagement activities with the local community. He is very skilled in engaging with the public on promoting the local marine species and their conservation importance. Justin is always willing to drop everything and go that extra mile to help the Living Seas Programme with any aspect of marine conservation work.
Seal Group Volunteers – North Wales Wildlife Trust
The Seal Group Volunteers have been a visible presence at a local seal haul-out site (where seal’s come ashore to rest) on the North Wales coast for the past 5 years. The site is surrounded by a large human population and experiences a large number of visitors from both the sea and land which can be a potential disturbance. The volunteer group has expanded as the seal numbers have increased and they have documented seals’ behaviours throughout the pupping and moulting season. The volunteers speak to members of the public about the ecology, behaviours, and life history of the seals and when appropriate encourage those who wish to get a bit closer to experience some great views. They also liaise with other local visitors, photographers and dog walkers and have been increasing their work in a wider sense by liaising with others who are also working to document and tag seals across the UK. The Seal Group has allowed a relatively stable and increasing breeding population, with a well-informed community who are willing to help to keep the seals safe.