Planning Volunteer

Roy Cunningham, Planning Volunteer


It was 1993 when I first got involved with volunteering at the Trust. I had just retired, and was looking forward to a quiet life, when a letter from Warwickshire Wildlife Trust dropped on my doormat (one which was sent to all WWT members in the villages local to Brandon Marsh) asking for volunteer help at the Trust’s headquarters. My wife Brenda, who now volunteers in the finance department, and I took the bait and have been volunteering with the Trust ever since.

I had made a habit of volunteering through most of my working life although fortunately I did not develop the habit until after I had completed my service in the Royal Air Force!! When the restoration of the near derelict Ffestiniog Railway in north Wales began in 1954 I became quite deeply involved (and I lived in Kent at the time; the journey to Wales in pre-motorway days for a week-end visit was something of a marathon). Subsequently I became chairman of a Scout group, a member of a committee that was formed to resolve pension issue when the then giant GEC took over my previous employer AEI, and, much closer to wildlife and countryside interests a member of the group that negotiated the purchase of Brandon Wood from the Forestry Commission for the benefit of the local community.

When I first started at the Trust I tackled a variety of indoor and outdoor jobs, including the collection of national statistics for the “Million for Wildlife” campaign some years ago and more recently maintaining the Trust’s Quality Management System. However, I eventually succeeded Rick Hickman in his voluntary role and was made responsible for monitoring local authority planning lists and responding to development proposals that are likely to have an adverse effect on wildlife.

As the Trust’s planning activity increased, I began working closely with the Trust’s Planning and Biodiversity Officer to monitor and screen ‘priority’ development proposals. These are major planning applications such as large scale commercial, residential or infrastructure proposals or developments that are likely to impact on designated wildlife sites. My role now involves scrutinising these proposals by reviewing survey work and planning statements and by using GIS Mapping software to indentify key wildlife concerns.

The knowledge of wildlife that I have developed since working with the Trust has enabled me to be effective in my volunteer role. My interest and knowledge of working with maps has also proved to be useful, especially when negotiating the huge paper maps that we used to use before we got the mapping software!

Outside of the Trust, the Ffestiniog Railway continues to benefit from both Brenda’s and my support and we often go to North Wales, still get involved with maintenance work to help with the upkeep the railway and now meet up with old friends who we had met there through the years.  


To find out more about our current volunteering opportunities please click here or contact our Volunteer Manager.