The New Forest’s popular volunteer fair enjoyed its most successful year ever as hundreds flocked to the annual event.
Over 500 people came along to search for their perfect volunteer role among the hundreds offered by the 46 local organisations attending.
Exhibitors at the event, which was organised by the New Forest National Park Authority, included partners from the New Forest’s Landscape Partnership Scheme. The scheme is funded by £2.8m from the Heritage Lottery Fund and aims to conserve the New Forest’s unique heritage, landscape and wildlife for future generations.
Volunteering is integral to the success of the Landscape Partnership, which offers roles as diverse as running a community archaeology group, helping conserve wildlife habitats and guiding forest walks.
The Volunteer Fair also welcomed dozens of other groups to Lyndhurst Community Centre on 30 January. They included organisations as diverse as the RNLI, Exbury Gardens, Hampshire Scouts, the Forestry Commission and the National Trust.
Jim Mitchell, fair organiser and New Forest National Park Authority Interpretation Officer, said: “I was delighted with how popular the fair was with visitors and exhibitors. It was undoubtedly our busiest and best year yet.
“The fair is about giving a platform to all the groups in the forest which are looking for volunteers, bringing them all together in one place at one time to recruit as many new volunteers as possible. We also had our own stall at the event, recruiting helpers for the exciting Landscape Partnership Scheme, which relies heavily on the input of volunteers.”
Jake White, National Trust Community Ranger, ran a stand at the fair and said: “Volunteers are a key part of our work in the New Forest, helping us undertake practical conservation work and wildlife surveys.
“Throughout the year we are running community events at our site in Foxbury in the north of the New Forest and without volunteers it wouldn’t be possible to run these events – all the help they offer us is invaluable. We signed lots of people up at the fair, so it was hugely beneficial for us.”
The event was opened by Karl Epps, UK National Parks Young Volunteer of the Year, who was presented with his winner’s certificate by Dr Julian Lewis MP.
If you missed the fair, find your own volunteer role in the New Forest in the 2016 Volunteer Guide at www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/volunteer