Chamu is a Volunteer Ranger with the Peak District National Park. She started volunteering because while looking for a walking group to join, she spotted the Guided Walks and went on about twenty walks over the summer of 2010. When Chamu realised that most of the walk leaders were volunteers (there are many more volunteers than paid Rangers!) she was inspired to train as a Volunteer Ranger herself.
“I wanted to balance a healthy lifestyle with my normal job and living in the city,” explains Chamu. “The countryside is a wonderful place and we’re so lucky in Sheffield to be so close to the Peak District. There are Guided Walks on all kinds of subjects-for example involving photography, which I love, or learning about lichen and fungi. There are about three hundred walks every year.”
Chamu’s work as a law lecturer at Sheffield University means that she is busy, and indoors, for most of the week, but during weekends she can get out into the fresh air and help others make the most of our green spaces. “It really captured my imagination because you can literally go anywhere. It’s not like a conservation area where you can’t access certain parts of the land.”
For Chamu, what attracted her and held her interest was the amount of continuous learning involved in her role. She says, “You find out about history, archaeology, biodiversity... They also do very good training which maintained my enthusiasm for the project. The Rangers give great support: they are flexible and they make things happen, for example if you have a new idea they are willing to engage with it.”
Chamu won a National Parks Volunteer Award in 2013 for her innovative volunteer work, focussing on reaching local communities and using social media.
The Peak District National Park is at the forefront of involving volunteers. Its Volunteer Rangers also won the Group Award this year, particularly for their work providing walks for people with physical or mental health problems, and of all ages.
Chamu is passionate about the benefits of volunteering: “I’ve met and found out about people from all different backgrounds, who are all willing to give and share their time. I’ve found out about this country through the land and the people.”
For the full story on the National Parks website