Posted by: Claire Hannington | November 6, 2013

Meet Emma, our 2nd Full time volunteer

I have always been interested in nature and wildlife. This was nurtured during my childhood where I spent many long hours playing in our garden, and investigating the local countryside of Norfolk on many a long dog walk.

Later on in life after graduating from Sheffield Hallam University (where I studied History of Art, Design and Film), I volunteered for the Sheffield BTCV. I love to revisit the steps in Abbeydale Woods which I built on my first day volunteering, still going strong after 17 years and making the woods accessible to visitors. Following this, I found work at a garden centre. Here I enjoyed learning about horticulture, and developed my passion for gardening.

After moving down to Swansea with my partner in 2001, I again went back to University. This time I studied Fine Art at Swansea Institute of Higher Education, and started work as a Gardener at Glynhir Mansion in Llandybie. This summer job also fitted round my course, and I enjoyed it so much I stayed on for a further 5 years learning so many new skills in land management.

My journey towards volunteering for National Trust started in October last year, when I began volunteering twice a month for the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales. At the time I was working for Cyrenians Cymru. This was wonderful work, but I began to realise just how much I missed a practical outdoors job. The rangers at the Wildlife Trust were really supportive of my efforts to take the plunge, and find full time voluntary conservation work.

emma 2

This work came in the form of  a 4 month voluntary placement for Cardiff Council on Flat Holm Island, as a Trainee Warden. Here I lived and worked with the warden and 5 other volunteers. This little island nature reserve, in the middle of the Bristol Channel is only half a kilometre wide. Yet despite its size, it is home to an impressive Lesser Black Backed Gull colony, rare Wild Leek plants, and a host of historic buildings. During my time on the island I really enjoyed working with the other staff, meeting the visitors, leading guided tours and learning about the flora and fauna through a variety of surveys.

In addition to this practical work, I have recently been studying at Swansea University on their Advanced Professional Training courses. These accredited short courses are designed to teach a variety of skills in Ecology including:  plant & animal ID, survey skills, and understanding protected species.

During my time on Flat Holm Island, I decided to look for a further long term voluntary conservation placement closer to home in Swansea. I am now really looking forward to a 6 month adventure, this time as a full time volunteer ranger with National Trust Gower. Hopefully I can put my skills and knowledge to good use, and learn much more, as I work alongside the other staff and volunteers on Gower. I would really like to learn more about the history and heritage of Gower as well as the local flora and fauna. My long term aim after finishing this placement, is to gain employment as a warden or ranger, hopefully in a coastal area of Wales or the south west of England.



  1. Congratulations on your placement Emma. What a perfect job for you and something you have worked so hard for. Will keep checking the site for updates.

  2. Hello Emma you’re welcome to come and have a look round our place here at St Madoc Centre in Llanmadoc. Have a look at
    Sarah Leedham, Conservation Ranger

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