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A volunteer encourages a young nature detective at a Go Wild! event at Malham (Photographer: Stephen Garnett)

“I want to ‘do my bit'”

Thursday 3 June, 2021, by Anne Hinckley

I’ve been privileged to volunteer with the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority since 2018, when I started assisting with the wading bird surveys.  This led on to helping in 2019 with the Peregrine Watch site at Malham Cove (in conjunction with the RSPB), meeting & greeting visitors and undertaking visitor surveys in 2020, and this year helping out with the new initiative to help schools give children an experience in the Dales. 

Separately, I have assisted with complementary activities, part sponsored by the National Park Authority. This includes writing up transcripts of historic interviews with farmers and other inhabitants of the Dales, giving an historic and cultural perspective on life in this area.

Why have I volunteered?  For a variety of reasons

I enjoy the natural sciences and wanted to grow my knowledge applied to this area. I’m interested in how the landscape came to its current state. I care about how it should evolve in future, especially given climate change, loss of species, impacts of Brexit, changing agricultural policies, and the need for environmental and economic sustainability, but feel I need to understand more.  Volunteering in the National Park gives focus to these questions and helps direct my own reading and learning.  Residents and National Park Authority employees are welcoming, friendly, knowledgeable, well-organised and keen to share their experience. 

Whatever the way forward for this important landscape and those who live and work within, it will need to be undertaken as consensually as possible and includes, as appropriate, helping those who visit the area to appreciate its qualities and understand the issues it faces.  It is a huge pleasure to meet people and learn their perspective.  I hope I can help add to their enjoyment and appreciation and I hope I can help residents with their missions to support and develop the biodiversity, protect the landscape from adverse impacts, and celebrate and support the area’s culture.   I want to ‘do my bit’ to help this important area thrive.  This way, I feel I’ve justified my pension and been able to, perhaps, use some of the skills I’ve acquired. 

Finally, volunteering also means meeting others who care about the area and who bring and share good humour and a wealth of experience.  Each day I’ve volunteered, I’ve arrived home with a spring in my step, plenty of stimulation to ponder upon, anecdotes to share with my partner, a feeling of satisfaction and grateful to be lucky enough to have had this opportunity.

An image of one the the Authority's volunteers installing a gate
Our Dales Volunteers get involved in everything from rights of way maintenance to research


Volunteers’ Week is a time to recognise and say thanks for the fantastic contribution millions of people make across the UK through volunteering. Our wonderful Dales Volunteers here in the National Park are no exception. We couldn’t do half the work we do without them.

Want to get involved?

Right now we are looking for ‘Meet and Greeters’ to help with advice and information at our visitor hub sites. Anyone who’d like to become a Dales Volunteer is encouraged to register with us online.

And if you are a young person wanting to play your part and learn new skills, take a look at our Generation Green project, which is recruiting youth volunteers, as well as offering opportunities to get involved in nature discovery and conservation. Want to make your voice really heard? We are currently seeking two youth representatives on our Management Plan steering group.


Anne Hinckley

Anne Hinckley has been a Dales Volunteer for the past 3 years. Anne supports the learning & engagement, historic environment and conservation teams in their work, as well as being a 'meeter and greeter' at our visitor hub sites.

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