Award presented to Dove Stone volunteer for outstanding contribution

Annabel Rushton

Monday 2 September 2019

A Saddleworth man who has gone above and beyond for wildlife conservation at Dove Stone, has been honoured with a prestigious volunteering award by the RSPB.

27-year-old James Minchin has volunteered for the RSPB at Dove Stone, near Oldham since 2014. He donates hundreds of hours of his time to nature conservation at the site, which sits within the Peak District National Park, is owned by United Utilities and managed in partnership with the RSPB.  

He has been presented with the RSPB's ‘President's Award’ which is given to only six out of 12,000 RSPB volunteers every year, recognising those who go the extra mile to help give nature a home.

James’ services involve regular volunteering out on the moors at Dove Stone, in all weathers. His role includes working with the site wardens and a party of other volunteers, planting trees and sphagnum moss, vital tasks in restoring the moor for wildlife, improving water quality, capturing carbon to combat the climate emergency, and making the site wetter and more resilient to fire. Wildlife monitoring and surveys are part of his work too, particularly butterflies, bumblebees and moorland wading birds. James also helps cut fire breaks on the edge of the moor and was a crucial member of the team involved in supporting the Greater Manchester fire service last year, helping to tackle the large fire which hit part of the land that the RSPB manages.

Kate Hanley, RSPB Site Manager at Dove Stone said: “I’m absolutely delighted that James has been presented with the President's Award. His hard work and dedication at Dove Stone, turning up and giving 110% in all weathers means it really couldn't have gone to a more worthy recipient. As a wildlife expert, he also does a great job helping the public to enjoy the wild spaces at Dove Stone, works on guided walk events, picks litter, produces interpretation and social media posts, and helps in the office. There is nothing he doesn’t do!

“James is a very special individual, but each and every one of our volunteers is important to the work that we do here. Their combined efforts have contributed an incredible 46,000 hours in the last 10 years, making a huge difference to our conservation work at Dove Stone, so I'd like to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to all of them.”

James Minchin modestly said: “I have always loved wildlife and the environment and know that it is under a lot of pressure, so it's great to be able to help the RSPB in the excellent work they do for nature conservation at Dove Stone. I am not alone in this though, I volunteer alongside other fantastic local people who generously give their time to support this important cause. We also work closely with the landowners United Utilities and a whole host of partners such as Oldham Council, the Peak District National Park, Life for a Life Memorial Forest and Saddleworth Police, all pulling together for this beautiful place.”

Sarah Wilks, head of engagement at the Peak District National Park said: “This is a fantastic achievement and thoroughly deserved recognition for James. Volunteers were at the heart of the National Park movement begun here in the Peak District nearly 70 years ago, and this award acknowledges their crucial value to this day. It’s inspiring that James’ award comes after Osian Wilson of the Eastern Moors Partnership elsewhere in the National Park won Young Volunteer of the Year in 2018, showing that a new generation of wildlife guardians are successfully taking up the challenge of caring for our landscapes.”

Philip Kersh, from the Life for a Life Memorial Forest at Dove Stone said: It’s rare to find people with the dedication and passion that James has shown looking after and helping to improve Dove Stone. This couldn’t have been shown more clearly during the fires last year - from talking to visitors and collecting litter in the evenings with me to manning the gate so the emergency services could get through. It’s a well-deserved award.”

Dove Stone reservoir is owned by United Utilities and the water company works in partnership with the RSPB, who manage the estate.  The partnership aims to encourage public access and recreation, while protecting water quality and wildlife for future generations. 

Last Updated: Monday 2 September 2019

Tagged with: Topic: Volunteering Topic: Dove Stone