Joe Parkinson - Surrey

"Last Summer, I decided that instead of going to university I would take a year out in order to do some volunteer conservation work. I hoped that this time would help me to build up my confidence as well as give me some experience of working in an environment that is completely different from an educational one.

However I have gained so much more than that. Even before I started, Matthew kept me up to date with the tasks that they were doing at the time via e-mail; which made me feel welcome. The group is made up of a wide variety of ages, and we are all able to get along incredibly well together. I’ve also found it a great opportunity to mix with people who are older than me, and what’s more I was pleasantly surprised to find that people seemed to be interested in me as an individual; several have even encouraged and helped me towards my future university course. I hope I have been able to contribute something to the group as well.

I have thoroughly enjoyed the work we have completed together, and it has been nice to know that you are making a positive difference to the environment. This thought even got me through the time we had to break ice to stand in freezing water! Through my volunteering here, I have learnt a great deal about the reptiles and amphibians that are protected by the Trust, and I very much look forward to meeting them in the Summer, when more of them come out of hibernation. I should also point out that the work that we do is a great way of staying fit and healthy; I have not had a single cold this year!

So far, I have had an absolutely brilliant time volunteering with ARC, and I strongly encourage anyone who has a bit of spare time to join us on the tasks."