I first discovered BTCV back in 1988 on a one-day training course and quickly became a regular volunteer and leader. In January 1999 I managed to get a paid job with BTCV Enterprises as a Project Supervisor on the New Deal scheme, based in the London borough of Haringey. A government initiative to encourage unemployed 18 to 24-year olds back into work by gaining skills whilst volunteering (not popular with all participants).
This was a post that utilised my volunteer leadership skills to the full, and although challenging at times, was very rewarding work. I found a sense of humour came in handy and helped the participants to enjoy their volunteering experience with us. I was also lucky enough to be part of a great team of fellow supervisors and made some strong and lasting friendships.
The New Deal scheme came to an end in London and I spent the next 5 years delivering NVQ levels 1 and 2 in Horticulture to mature students. Based at Merton 6th Form College in Morden I gained qualifications with BTCV as a trainer, assessor and verifier and developed my passion for training. Here too I made good friendships with some of the trainees, who managed to find my sense of humour bearable. During this period, I also became involved in delivering some of BTCV short courses. I particularly enjoyed being a trainer for our project leadership courses, a wonderful way of meeting new staff and volunteers.
In 2006 I transferred from Enterprises over to Charity Operations to take on a new role as Training Development Officer in London, a post I felt very fortunate to get. Based in the London Head Office at Kings Cross it was a great opportunity to become familiar with many other activities running across the region including the development of the TCV Green Gym. I spent the next 6 years delivery a short course training programme in London and developing new courses such as Healthy Ponds and Leading Guided Walks. I found this a highly enjoyable occupation and had the pleasure of being involved in the training offered to most the new staff and volunteer officers in London and adjoining counties.
Around this time, I became the Health and Safety rep for London which gave me the chance to visit a wide range of sites across the region. Because of this I gained a pretty good picture of just how amazingly rich and diverse London’s urban wildlife is and was able to reflect this in the courses I delivered. Travelling to other regions for meetings and training events was another bonus I enjoyed and once again I met some very dedicated and talented people working for TCV.
Alas as all good things eventually do, this role came to an end due to funding cuts in 2012. I was offered a choice of a redundancy package or a Senior Project Officer post based at Railway Fields LNR in Haringey. I could hardly believe my luck and snapped the job up without hesitation! My time in Haringey for past seven years has been fantastic. Working closely with Haringey council to improve biodiversity in parks, open spaces SINC’s and LNR’s through producing conservation action plans.
Building up a great Haringey Team has been one of my successful goals and I will be leaving in full confidence that our good work in the borough will continue. The increase of access to habitats at Railway Fields has allowed for more ‘hands on’ experience from visiting schools children in their studies of their natural environment. I have seen their appreciation through their smiles of enjoyment and discovery. Finally, it’s been a real pleasure having the opportunity to try out management techniques to enhance the biodiversity of Railway Fields Nature Reserve for the benefit of wildlife and the local community.
I started working for TCV in Haringey and twenty years later I finish in Haringey, working on a site that I have grown to love. A great big thank you to all the people I have had the pleasure of working with and, to the opportunities consistently given to me by TCV over the years to continue developing skills and knowledge in a vocation that is very close to my heart.
Thank you TCV, I have many good times to reflect on in my retirement and I plan not to be a stranger.