Celebrating a landmark year for Volunteering

Volunteers Awards Evening Media.jpg
06 February 2024

On Friday 2nd February 2024 The Parks Trust celebrated the huge contribution from their 245 volunteers at our Annual Volunteer Celebration and Awards Evening. Hosted at the Chrysalis Theatre Camphill the evening celebrated the 11,352 combined hours volunteers spent supporting The Trust in 2023. With roles ranging from Volunteer Rangers and Wardens, Events and Activities Volunteers, Outdoor Learning Volunteers, Conservation Volunteers and Wildlife Surveyors, awards were given to volunteers in each of these areas who have showed particular dedication through their volunteering over the past year.

2023 was a hallmark landmark year for The Parks Trust volunteer programme as we were joined by over 50 Health Walk volunteers in the Spring and in October, we were awarded the Investing in Volunteers accreditation, the UK Quality Standard that assesses and improves the quality of volunteer management and involvement.

Volunteering is an important part of The Trust’s work, supporting our values and mission to care for Milton Keynes’ parks, woodlands and lakes for benefit of people and wildlife to enjoy, forever...

Our overall Volunteers of the Year for 2023

Our overall Volunteers of the Year award was presented to a couple who throughout 2023 went above and beyond in their volunteering: Steve & Caroline Beechey

Our 2023 Volunteers of the Year, Steve and Caroline have between them given over 250 volunteer hours, completed over 50 patrols in the Caldecotte area and supported many things. From events like Roman Day, the community litter picks, and bat walks to moving hundreds of cans at the World Record Attempt ‘MK Can’ to supporting Outdoor Learning Sessions and leading Women’s Walking Network walks. Steve and Caroline even found the time to conduct butterfly transects and in their spare time volunteer in other places like junior parkrun! Dedicated volunteers since joining in 2021, we thank them for all their hard work and support of The Parks Trust.

Congratulations to all the Volunteer Winners and a huge thank you to all our Volunteers for everything they do, in all weathers, 365 days of the year!

About our Volunteer Winners

Events Volunteer of the Year: Tony Sell
Tony has given his absolute all at every single event he volunteered at in 2023. From being the most high-spirited team member at Linford Eats, to single handedly running the best coconut shy in the history of TPT at GLHOD, to bringing the enthusiasm to the over 55's fair this person’s level of commitment is outstanding.

Outdoor Learning Volunteer of the Year: Colin Bowker
Volunteering since 2019, Colin has supported the Outdoor Learning Team with various sessions and projects in 2023, including Youth Explorers and various school sessions. Colin has a very uniquea unique list of hobbies and skills, which he is passionate about sharing with park users of all ages. He has also helped deliver training to the Outdoor Learning Team themselves, helping to improve their abilities and confidence especially in bushcraft – for which they are extremely grateful!

Newcomer (Ranger) of the Year: Sharon Lawson
Sharon started out as a Volunteer in May 2022 and attends numerous volunteer commitments, carrying out tasks with the Events Team, supporting Outdoor Learning and has also helped out at practical tasks. Her primary volunteer ranger role covers Furzton Lake, and she is super reliable coming out in all weathers to litter pick and keep an eye on the site. She has recently attended BSL training and is a brilliant ambassador for the Trust and committed locally as a member of the Friends of the Caribbean group.

Biodiversity Champion: James Chew
James has been a steadfast champion of Biodiversity. Leading the groups of volunteers at Elfield Nature Park every Tuesday they have created habitats, cleared areas for wildlife to thrive in and cultivated honeybees. James has taken up the mantle of beekeeper with ease and has become a real champion for the natural world educating staff and volunteers alike in the dangers of invasive species, especially the Asian hornet.

Newcomer of the Year: Jon Sidwell
Jon Sidwell joined the Trust in 2023 and regularly helps with our outdoor education sessions. Jon also attended an accessibility workshop hosted by the Trust as a Bucks Vision volunteer, where he supports blind and partially sighted people in the local area. Since then, Jon has been working closely with Ellie on the Trust's Accessibility Project as an Access Ambassador, where we're improving accessibility around our parks, lakes, woods and green spaces. Jon has been supporting the Trust in negotiating trials of new accessible technology across our parks. He uses his business knowledge and experience working with people with disabilities to help guide this important work.

Long-service Award: Athina Beckett & Jonathan Brown
Athina and Jonathan have been volunteering their time to green spaces and canals for more years than we remember. They have dutifully given their time to litter picking along the Canal Boardwalk, our Floodplain Forest Nature Reserve and have supported the annual canal clean- up each year. With at least 40 years volunteering between them Athina and Jonathan have dedicated so much to Milton Keynes waterways and green spaces, we thank them for all their hard work and commitment.

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