Over a century ago, pioneering women founded the RSPB and its conservation work continues to rely on the expertise of thousands of female staff and volunteers to help save nature for future generations to enjoy.
To celebrate International Women’s Day, we spoke to Marjorie Hutchin, a 74 year-old RSPB volunteer who, for almost three decades has dedicated her time to helping nature. Marjorie is an example of one our RSPB superwomen for whom no task is too big or challenging. In 2014 Marjorie, in recognition of her years of dedication was awarded the RSPB’s President Award alongside her husband. To this day she continues to show that volunteers are integral to protecting the wildlife and landscapes we cherish.
Why did you start Volunteering for the RSPB?
My husband Neil and I have always been interested in nature and birdwatching and we wanted to get involved. I love West Cumbria and the Campfield Marsh reserve and I wanted to help out in any way I could.
What has your role been at the RSPB?
My first volunteering task at the RSPB was to fill in the gullies that had been drained meaning so my first role was a lot of digging and quite literally getting stuck in.
Since then I’ve had the chance to try my hand at a lot of different things, some of which I never would have thought I would be doing. This included being a reserve assistant/visitor centre volunteer at Campfield Marsh reserve, pin badge box/collecting box minder and a Lake District Osprey Project event helper along with lots of other jobs through the years.
I retired as leader of the West Cumbria RSPB group 4 years ago, but I am still on the committee as the Group Newsletter Editor. I also keep up with my usual voluntering tasks so I keep myself very busy.
What do you enjoy about volunteering?
I get just as much out of volunteering as I put in. I’ve loved meeting lots of different people and learning a huge amount from them and the projects I’ve been involved with. It’s also been a great way to stay fit and healthy. The staff at Campfield have always involved us with decisions and asked our opinion so we’ve really felt part of something big. The staff are very supportive and we always know why we’re doing a particular job. We often surprise them and ourselves by how much we get done!
Could you pick a highlight?
There have been so many wonderful moments over the years but seeing the visitor centre at Campfield Marsh completed four years ago was a huge highlight, not least because it was the first time we had a proper toilet! It’s been amazing to see the steady progression and how the reserve has developed over the years. I’m very much excited to see what happens in the future.
Do you think it’s important for young girls to volunteer?
Absolutely! Whatever charity it is I think there’s so much to be gained by volunteering. You meet so many people from different walks of life and I think a lot of girls would be surprised by the variety of roles on offer. I never expected to learn as many skills as I have and it’s never too early, or too late to start.
Marjorie isn’t alone in being somewhat of an RSPB superwoman. All around the organisation there are inspirational women working hard in roles varying from reserve Wardens to Directors to Scientists all contributing to the RSPBs aims.
There are thousands of female volunteers all generously offering their time, energy and passion to the RSPB. Across the UK women are volunteering in a huge number of roles from getting their hands dirty maintaining our reserves to working behind the scenes in helping to make sure the RSPB stays true to the aims of its pioneering founding members.
Last Updated: Wednesday 1 May 2019