Volunteer stories

Volunteering is the commitment of time and energy, for the benefit of society and the community, the environment, or individuals outside one's immediate family. There are approx. 4000 volunteer groups across Powys with an estimated 26000 volunteers supporting our communities.

Volunteers work with Rights of Way officers to maintain over 12000 registered paths with public access. They help keep the paths open by doing light clearance, kissing gate repairs and bridge builds. This means visitors have a much more enjoyable experience when visiting the county. 

If you’d like to volunteer or would like further information, please see our Rights of way volunteering page.

Building bridges with rights of way volunteers

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Walking, cycling and horse riding along Powys’ 6000 miles of paths is a beautiful way to spend the day. The scenery across Powys is world class; from the Brecon Beacons in the south, through the remote wilderness of the Cambrian Mountains to the tip of South Snowdonia. Access to this landscape is made possible in every direction due to the vast public rights of way network.

Powys also boasts two national trails; the Offa’s Dyke Path, that borders England, and the Glyndwr’s Way, both of which are visited by thousands of visitors and locals, every day of the year.

But have you ever stopped and thought about how they are kept open? Who maintains a path? Who cuts the hedgerow or builds a bridge across a gorge? Could it be trail pixies or fairies?

In a magical kingdom that would be true, however the reality is… volunteers.

With over 6000 miles of paths, the Countryside Services Team would find it impossible to maintain and keep paths open without the help and support of committed, hardworking volunteers, who turn out in all-weather to give up their time to give something back to their communities.

There are around 60 volunteers in Powys working with Rights of Way officers to maintain over 12000 registered paths with public access. Phil Stallard, Countryside Access Volunteer Coordinator regularly works with local volunteers and is responsible for training, health and safety issues and bringing together teams to work on paths around the county.

Image of Phil Stallard

Phil commented “as we open the paths, of course nature is closing them behind us. Volunteers help keep the paths open by doing light clearance, kissing gate repairs and bridge builds.

This helps keep the paths open for visitors to have a much more enjoyable experience when visiting the county. I enjoy working with people from the local community, it’s very social and we have a good laugh while working.”

Glasbury on Wye residents have formed a charity to keep the public toilets open after the council announced it was seeking support from communities to do so as budgets continue to reduce.  Two of the women involved tell their story.  Their experience around community delivery may be of interest to other communities considering how best to sustain services that the council can no longer afford to provide in the long term.

A piece of open space in mid Powys blossomed into a traditional hay meadow as part of a trial between the county council and a local wildlife trust.

The Lower Common, part of the Lake Park Nature Reserve in Llandrindod Wells, underwent a natural transformation this summer after it was allowed to grow and flower like a traditional hay meadow.

It was part of a trial after Powys County Council was approached by the Radnorshire Wildlife Trust, who asked the council to allow the open space to become a hay meadow. In previous years, the common was cut at least once every three weeks during the summer months but this year, it was allowed to grow naturally with stunning results.

Not only is there an abundance of flowers and buzzing with wildlife, volunteers from the wildlife trust have identified some rare invertebrates. Pollinators like bumblebees are suffering a decline, partly because of the loss of flowery meadows and verges.

The Welsh Government’s Pollinator Action Plan wants to encourage landowners to provide flower-rich habitats like the Lower Common.

Cllr Graham Brown, Cabinet Member for Outdoor Recreation, said: “The majority of our open spaces are subjected to regular grass-cutting regimes. But the financial pressures we’re facing means that we are going to have to look at different ways at maintaining these open spaces.“

I’m delighted with the results of this trial, which has boosted the biodiversity of the Lower Common in such a short space of time. The results of this trial will certainly help us consider how we approach the management of our open spaces in the future.” 

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Darylle Hardy, Radnorshire Wildlife Trust’s Project Officer, has been surveying the common over the summer with the help of volunteers as part of a projected funded by The Co-operative.

She said: “The meadow has been blooming amazing and far more abundant than I expected with flowers including milkmaid, selfheal, knapweed and devil’s-bit scabious. It’s been buzzing with wildlife with bumblebees, hoverflies and butterflies all summer and we have enjoyed exploring it.”

Pollinators like bumblebees are suffering a decline, partly because of the loss of flowery meadows and verges. The Welsh Government’s Pollinator Action Plan wants to encourage landowners to provide flower-rich habitats like the Lower Common.

“We’re lucky in Llandrindod Wells to still have some flower-rich grasslands which would be the envy of people trying to create new hay meadows. We commend Powys County Council for trialling this at Lower Common, which benefited people and wildlife over the summer.”

The Lakeside Angling Club and the Outdoor Recreation Service at Powys County Council have formed a new partnership, which will see the angling club manage fishing on Llandrindod Wells Lake on behalf of the council.

The club will inspect the fishing platforms and bank safety, remove litter, monitor water level, fish stock levels and carry out bailiff duties.

Our vision of developing stronger communities in Powys has been further demonstrated by the work and commitment of a local angling club. The Lakeside Angling Club and the Outdoor Recreation Service at Powys County Council have formed a new partnership, which will see the angling club manage fishing on Llandrindod Wells Lake on behalf of the council.

The duties of the club will include inspection of the fishing platforms and bank safety, removing litter, water level monitoring, fish stock levels and bailiff duties. The council and the angling club have worked together to restore fishing at the lake to its former glory following the events of 2006 where thousands of fish died of oxygen starvation caused by a breakdown of blue-green algae.

The lake has undergone a transformation after works were carried out to restore the ecological balance to prevent a re-occurrence of the 2006 events. The lake has been re-stocked with roach, rudd and perch. Some of the carp and tench that were removed while the works took place have also been returned to the lake.

The works have started to bear fruit as fish are being caught from Llandrindod Wells Lake on a regular basis.

Cllr Graham Brown, Cabinet Member for Outdoor Recreation, said:

“I’m delighted that the Lakeside Angling Club has agreed to this partnership arrangement, which will see them manage this wonderful community asset on our behalf.

“The council is facing financial pressures over the coming years and we have to change the way we deliver services in the future, including how we manage our open spaces. This partnership is just one example of how a service could be delivered in the future.”

Lakeside Angling Club's Fred Davies said:

“We understand the importance that Llandrindod Wells Lake has to the whole community and our anglers.

“We are pleased to have been chosen to manage the lake, which will help the council meet the financial pressures it is facing. We look forward to working with the council in the future to safeguard this important attraction for the benefit of the local community.”

 

 

 

 

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