Abby talking about the charity to visitors to the Forest

Making a difference, one event at a time: Abby's journey with the Heart of England Forest

28 June 2024
Lauren French, Communications Assistant

Abby's journey with the Heart of England Forest began in Autumn 2023, when she joined the team as a regular volunteer. She'd been looking into volunteering in her spare time and wanted something flexible that would fit around her job and get her outdoors while making a positive contribution to nature. 

After a long search she eventually learnt about the charity through her dad, who shared his amazing experiences with her after volunteering for the Forest himself. “He was always so enthusiastic after a volunteering session - talking about what he had seen and learnt. So, I looked into it and ended up also joining as a volunteer!” This was the opportunity she had been looking for and she couldn’t wait to get involved and to help ‘spread the word’ about the charity’s work. 
Abby started off helping out with tasks such as seed sorting and weeding at the tree nursery, and then got stuck in with some forestry work including footpath maintenance and tree guard removal. In January 2024, she took on a new challenge - becoming a Community Engagement & Fundraising Volunteer. 
In this role, Abby helps raise awareness about the Forest's work and showcases how people can support the charity through fundraising, volunteering, and becoming a Friend of the Forest at events like village fetes, festivals and fairs, climate action gatherings, gardening groups, Women’s Institute groups, and wildlife clubs. 

Abby is one of two Community Engagement & Fundraising Volunteers at the Forest and has been trained in public speaking to give friendly and confident talks to organisations. She is also working with Ros, the Community Partnerships Officer, to encourage local businesses to support the Forest.

“The training I have received so far to help prepare me for the Community Engagement & Fundraising role has been brilliant, really comprehensive. Ros has been wonderful, she’s very supportive and keen for me to have a positive experience of volunteering with the Forest!”
Abby, Community Engagement & Fundraising Volunteer
Abby wearing a branded shirt at an event smiling in the camera
“I recruited Abby as one of my volunteers last year to help me raise awareness of the Heart of England Forest. Having spent a couple of years trying to cover a number of localities by myself, the additional help given by my volunteers means the charity is able to have a presence at more events over a wider area and more often, reaching new audiences and raising our profile. I feel very lucky to have Abby as a volunteer – with a background in ecology and bags of enthusiasm, she has a natural warmth which is very engaging. Abby lives close the Forest and her local knowledge has been invaluable in researching events to attend and groups to give a talk to – it’s just brilliant to have her as part of my team!”
Ros, Community Partnerships Officer
Ros smiling while holding a piece of paper while at a community talk

So, what does Abby like most about volunteering with the Heart of England Forest? For her, it's all about the people - she loves being part of a community of like-minded individuals who share her passion for nature. She's learnt so much from the Forest staff and other volunteers. At the beginning of the year, she attended a woodlouse identification training session with Assistant Biodiversity Officer Avery to expand her knowledge and experience, which was a real highlight for her - now she's conducting her own regular woodlouse surveys in the Forest. It just goes to show how versatile and hands-on the volunteering experience can be at the Heart of England Forest; there is something for everyone. 
When asked what advice she has for others thinking of joining the Forest team, she says:

"Give it a go! It’s a fabulous opportunity to be involved with a charity with an ambitious vision and to make a positive contribution to the future. Everyone I have met has been so welcoming and genuinely enthusiastic, committed, knowledgeable and passionate - it’s very inspiring.”

Inspired by Abby’s story?

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