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Volunteering for a healthier and more meaningful life

Posted: Monday 6th March 2017 by DevonWildlifeTrust

Andrew's Wood wild ponies

Devon Wildlife Trust volunteer, Michelle Carr, explains how volunteering at DWT's Andrew's Wood has had a positive impact on her health and her happiness.

Michelle Carr The last few years have passed by in a blur of working, studying long hours and raising my children – often all at once. I’ve also been coming to terms with chronic illness, it has been a busy and stressful time.

At the end of 2016, I made the decision to stop working and focus on the things in life that really are important to me; my family, my health and the Devonshire countryside.

In an effort to make life more meaningful and more authentic I began volunteering with the Devon Wildlife Trust.

Discovering Andrew's Wood

I grew up in the South Hams and had family living on Dartmoor. Andrew's Wood offers a little of the magic of both, the rich and luscious grassy pastures of the South Hams with the wilder more rugged parts of Dartmoor. Before volunteering I’d visited the wood with my children’s preschool and loved all the different parts of the wood, I love how boggy and messy some parts are!

After contacting the trust and expressing my interest in Andrew's Wood I was assigned the task of checking the wild ponies that live on the reserve. On my first day of volunteering, it rained and rained and rained. I met with Jackie Gage, the DWT Nature Reserves Officer, and we spent the day walking with mud up to our knees, soaking and playing hide and seek with the ponies. Afterwards Jackie asked me “are you sure you want to do this?” I absolutely did! I’ve been checking the ponies for eight weeks now, two of them have started charging over when they hear me call and the others still eye me with some suspicion.

Signs of Spring

Frog spawn at Andrews WoodIn this time I’ve watched the wood begin to wake up from its winter slumber. The skies are changing from a dark and menacing grey to a light cool blue. Signs of early spring are beginning to show with catkins on the trees, early primroses and frogspawn that my children found in February half term.

Like me, the wood is now renewing itself. Volunteering to check the ponies has given me a reason to spend a couple of hours each week walking in peace and observing nature work its miracles. I enjoy watching the seasonal changes, I love getting to know the ponies and I love that part of my exercise routine, so vital for my health, is now purposeful yet undemanding. I am looking forward to spring progressing and lighter evenings so I can share my adventures with my children.

We’re hoping (with fingers crossed) for a sunny summer which will perhaps dry the mud up just a little!

Interested in volunteering?

Has reading Michelle's blog made you more curious about volunteering? Volunteering with Devon Wildlife Trust is a great way to learn new skills, meet new people and make a difference for Devon's wildlife. 

Click here to see our current volunteering opportunities. 

Read DevonWildlifeTrust's latest blog entries.

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