Students help out National Trust
Back to News Index
STUDENTS from Blyth swapped the coast for the countryside when they gave up a Saturday to do voluntary work.
The group from Bede Academy have all begun the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme - the first from the Academy to do so - and threw themselves into it during a day at Wallington Hall in Northumberland.
The 14 and 15-year-olds headed into the woods of the National Trust property to help clear brash following a programme of tree thinning.
Twenty eight students accompanied by teachers spent around five hours sawing branches and dragging them to bonfires under the guidance of National Trust ranger Matt Watson.
The aim was to clear a large area of the woods to make it more appealing to visitors.
Matt explained: "This area was quite dense woodland and a bit dark and off-putting. We have been able to sell the unwanted timber but we needed help to clear the brash. Without our regular volunteers and groups like Bede Academy we just couldn't do it.
"Lots of hands really do make light work. You can't put a price on the value of their help. It's fantastic that so many young people have been willing to give up their own time to help and great to see so many smiling faces."
Matt added: "Having more daylight coming through makes the woods more appealing, as well as being good for ground plants, insects and invertebrates. It will also encourage visitors to stray off the beaten track and hopefully inspire children to build dens and climb trees."
The working day was also educational for the Bede students as Matt explained to them the ecological and environmental reasons for thinning the woodland and about the floral and fauna in the woods.
Student Kieran Monaghan, 14, said: "I've been cutting the wood and taking it to the fire. It's the first time I've done anything like this and it's been really good."
Suzanne Devlin, 15, added: "I haven't spent a day like this in the woods before. Normally on a Saturday I'd be sitting in the house watching TV."
Thirty nine students at Bede have embarked on their bronze Duke of Edinburgh award under the leadership of teachers Dr Craig Sams, Paul Birdsall, Tom Whitworth, Emma Johnston, Kara Cordner, Charlotte Webster and Jenny Bell.
As well as three months of volunteering they must complete at least three months activity in the physical and skills sections, and plan, train for and complete a two day, one night expedition, for which teachers have undergone formal training.
Chelsea Hilbert, 14, said: "I wanted to join the scheme because I thought it would help me grow in character. It's a good opportunity. This is the first hands on thing we've done and it's been really good."
Dr Sams added: "We are currently putting a lot of emphasis on the volunteering, or service section, because it's very much in line with the ethos of Bede Academy to give something back to the community."
The students are due back at Wallington Hall later this month [April] to help repair footpaths.