250 years’ service

Northumberland National Park has recognised some of its longest-serving volunteers and announced several new opportunities for the people of Northumberland to ‘get stuck in’.

Seven volunteers, who have clocked up a staggering 250 years’ service between them, were recognised at a special event in Bellingham during National Volunteers’ Week, where National Park staff also announced a range of new volunteering opportunities connected to the opening of The Sill: National Landscape Discovery Centre this summer.

Founding members of the Volunteer programme, Trevor and Dorothy Hardy, along with Brian Aitkins, Brian Thompson, Fred Pattinson, Margaret Moffit and Ivan Foster were presented with cards and gifts in recognition of their years of dedicated service welcoming visitors to the Park and Hadrian’s Wall Path.

Glen Sanderson, chairman of the Northumberland National Park Authority, said: “Established over 50 years ago, Northumberland National Park’s Volunteer programme is integral to the Park’s success.

“We would like to thank Trevor, Dorothy, the two Brians, Fred, Margaret and Ivan for their fantastic contribution to the Park. Together, they have amassed an incredible 250 years of volunteering for which we are extremely grateful. Our volunteers bring a wide range of skills from a great variety of backgrounds and without them the national park could not achieve all that we do.”

With volunteer activities covering all aspects of the National Park’s work, from guided walks to conservation, educational visits and volunteer ranger schemes, the variety of volunteering opportunities within the Park are endless.

The public opening of The Sill on Saturday 29 July has created numerous new opportunities for people to volunteer with the Park. Spearheaded by Northumberland National Park Authority and supported by a range of partners and funders, including YHA (England & Wales) and a £7.8 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), The Sill: National Landscape Discovery Centre, is a visitor attraction like no other.

The iconic building at Once Brewed on Hadrian’s Wall will enable more people to explore the landscape of the National Park and surrounding areas. It boasts an 86-bed Youth Hostel, café, shop, fixed and temporary exhibitions, a rural business hub, several learning and event spaces, a tourist information service and a fully accessible Whin Sill grassland roof.

The new volunteer positions include front of house, reception and welcoming roles, curator roles within The Sill’s exhibition spaces, support staff in the retail and catering areas and general groundskeeping and site maintenance activities.

There are also opportunities for volunteers to get involved in supporting The Sill Activity and Education programmes.

“We are looking for volunteers that can help us bring this iconic and inspirational project to life,” said Tony Gates, chief executive of Northumberland National Park.

“The Sill is the single most significant initiative to be undertaken in rural Northumberland in a generation and will transform how people engage with the great outdoors.

“The Sill gives Northumberland and the rest of the UK a new world-class facility and visitor experience to enable people of all ages to explore and enjoy the landscapes, history and rich culture of Northumberland.”

In addition to the volunteer roles within The Sill, Northumberland National Park is also on the hunt for conservation-minded youngsters aged 16-25 to take part in its Young Volunteer Ranger programme.

Now in its fifth year, the programme enables young people with an interest in pursuing a career in the environmental or countryside sectors to work alongside National Park staff as part of its Ranger Team to get actively involved in the care and management of the Park, including its sites, woodlands and nature reserves.

To find out more about all of the National Park’s volunteering opportunities, visit https://www.northumberlandnationalpark.org.uk.