Volunteer Journey: Ruth Thomas

From chainsaw training to historic designed landscape research

Filed under News
Date posted: Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Volunteers are at the heart of the Clyde and Avon Valley Landscape Partnership’s mission to care for and celebrate this unique part of the world. We put two CAVLP volunteers forward as nominees for ‘Volunteer of the Year’ in the VASLan Awards 2017 - Ruth Thomas and Duncan Arthur.

Each and every volunteer plays a special role in helping to conserve the built and natural heritage, increase community participation, improve access to and learning about the area, and take part in heritage skills training – helping to secure a community focussed and sustainable future for the area.

Over the last year, volunteers spent around 4000 hours maintaining ancient woodland in the Clyde Valley National Nature Reserve (NNR), surveying and submitting reports on 10 designed landscapes, planting trees, researching Local Landscape Heroes, unearthing artworks associated with the Clyde and Avon Valley and guiding families in summer natural play activities, connecting them to the beautiful green spaces on their doorsteps. And that’s a small snapshot of the volunteering which has taken place. View the full list of current opportunities available here.

We’re posting two volunteer focus blogs on Ruth and Duncan over the next few weeks to share why we’re so grateful that they volunteer for CAVLP, along with the rest of the volunteer teams. Here’s the first of these on Ruth.

Ruth, Clyde and Avon Valley Landscape Partnership volunteer, at work in Mauldslie Woodlands with the regular Thursday group
Ruth, Clyde and Avon Valley Landscape Partnership volunteer, at work in Mauldslie Woodlands with the regular Thursday group

Ruth has been volunteering with CAVLP on a number of projects for over four years, contributing a staggering 1000 hours, at least.

She started volunteering as an ‘ancient tree hunter’ then began practical conservation work with RSPB Barons Haugh.  She also volunteers regularly with the Clydesdale Community Initiatives (CCI) Mauldslie Woods Volunteering Team, working to improve this part of the Clyde Valley National Nature Reserve, and has just started helping at Lesmahagow Allotments with CCI too. On top of this, she has undertaken research on several designed landscapes as part of Glorious Gardens, uncovering the hidden history of these grand estates and sharing findings with the public on the Virtual Museum.

As well as her own dedication to volunteering, Ruth has brought along more people to volunteer on projects she is involved in, drawing them in through sheer enthusiasm, tenacity, her keenness to make a difference and unique sense of humour.

Ruth undertaking some drystane dyking with Clydesdale Community Initiatives
Ruth undertaking some drystane dyking with Clydesdale Community Initiatives

Ruth explains why she volunteers, “To be honest, I'd never volunteered or done anything with a group before the chainsaw training so you could say CAVLP set me off. Helping out locally and helping people and nature is something I like to do.”

She continues, “I enjoy physical work and I'd like to leave the planet no worse off because I lived in it. I get a sense of achievement from it and have made some good friends from volunteering. With some groups it’s a real laugh, especially volunteering alongside the Clydesdale Community Initiatives team. I like learning new techniques and developing new interests and now enjoy helping others learn. Glorious Gardens gave me a whole new perspective on the landscape and it was really well worth doing, getting to see places I wouldn't normally get to see.”

Thank you Ruth, we’re glad to have set you off on a path of volunteering that has led to you to contibute so much to the local area.

If you are inspired by Ruth’s story, take a look at what CAVLP volunteering opportunities are available here.

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