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Rowan collects veg on his food parcel volunteering rounds

Volunteering during lockdown: the Diary of a Young Ranger

Saturday 2 May, 2020, by Rowan

Well done to team Hub for all your efforts – I’m sure it’s appreciated by more people than you’ll ever realise. You’re making a brilliant effort to support your community, many thanks.”

Linda Adey on social media (Eden resident & Oaklea Trustee)

Hi, I’m Rowan and in Y9 at Kirkby Stephen Grammar School. I live in the northern extension of the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

I started getting active with Young Rangers at the start of this year – and also wanted to add this to my Duke of Edinburgh Award.

I have always loved wildlife and the outdoors (camping, biking, hiking, running etc). A few weeks ago we put up a bird box I’d made at school – two blue tits have shown interest – watch this space!

I live on a smallholding, and in January we started creating a hedge at home – here you can see the before…

…and here it is almost in full bloom by end of April 2020.

We did this between two Young Rangers sessions – tree planting at Crosby Ravensworth and doing drainage channels at Cautley Spout.

Then the world changed and school stopped… BUT my volunteering went full time!

Corona hits

When coronavirus hit I joined my Dad assisting with a new venture delivering food in a bus in the Eden Valley. He’s normally the Marketing & Comms guy for a charity called the Oaklea Trust which supports disadvantaged people across the north of England.

Oaklea run the Appleby Hub social enterprise and from there we make wholesome  food and deliver it to those in lockdown – I have been doing this for five weeks now.

Here’s an idea of what my average day is like (and tbf no one day is the same…)

07:50/08:00 Head to Appleby

08:30 I take daily supplies of bread and baked goods to Low Howgill Butchers & Deli in town centre

PLUS collect veg from Stephenson’s Grocers.

09:30 If time allows I go for a run, usually along the nearby River Eden.

10:00-11:15 Assist Patrizia the chef in kitchen. This has also included making things like Tiffin for the cake boxes we deliver – which sold really well.

11:15-11:30 Help prep the food delivery and the orders (bag it, sort etc) –if any are nearby I may do delivery on foot. Work out the route and order of delivery etc.

11:30-15:00 Join my Dad on the Hub Bus and assist with deliveries in the Appleby area.

15:00-16:00 Help with prep for next day.

16:00 Head to Crosby Ravensworth to deliver bread to fellow social enterprise, Vista Veg, then head home! I then usually go for a bike ride…

We have had great feedback from the community we are serving, plus my teachers (who have been following my exploits on social media – and many saw the article in the Cumberland & Westmorland Herald) and I’ve  even bumped into some of them out n about (at a strict 2 metre distance!)

Examples from emails sent to me:

“Well done – I am guessing from pictures on social media you are still working really hard. Well done Rowan – we are all very proud of you, you are helping our community in a very important way. Keep safe.

Mrs Park and all the staff at KSGS

“Great to see Rowan in the paper. Keep up the good work!”

Mr Richard Wilson (SENCO & ICT Teacher)

(on hearing I’d been invited to do a blog for YDNPA) “That’s fantastic. This time in history is going to be a moving memory for our young people when they are older I think.”

Sue Green, Director, Oaklea Trust

This could go on for some time yet – but, as many people have said, I’m learning loads:

  • logistics
  • sales
  • preparing and producing food
  • marketing (like our Easter Egg caption competition where I collated all the caption winners on the A5 sheets pictured below and helped choose the winner).
  • teamworking. It’s only a small bunch of people so everyone has to play their part and I really feel part of the team. You also have to be able to cope with last minute changes or problems. I’ve been sent out to hunt for various foods when the kitchen has run out! We have also done things like collect prescriptions. And of course we may be the only contact some people have during lockdown.
  • I’ve also done other stuff like collect PPE from QEGS school Penrith to supply Oaklea Trust settings in South Cumbria.

As a nice footnote on Saturday 25 April we did a delivery to Oaklea Group CEO Clive Wigley – he told me he intended to get a gift of my choice for all the hard work so far!

Here’s a short video of stuff we did in Week 5 around 23-25 April:

“Spiffin Tiffin”

So that’s it for now. Will let you know what happens over the coming months…

PS There’s more stuff on what the Oaklea Trust have been doing supporting communities during the coronavirus outbreak here:

Have you heard about our Young Rangers scheme? It’s for anyone aged 11 to 16 who loves the outdoors and is keen to find out more about our amazing National Park.

We now have not one but three Young Ranger groups! The groups are based in the South, West and North of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Each meets at least once a month to take part in some practical work in and around the local area. 

Over the past few years the groups have completed just about any task you can imagine – tree-planting, drystone walling, path repairs – amassing thousands of hours worth of work improving facilities, landscapes and habitats.

Paul Brady, Young Rangers Project Officer

If you know a young person who’d like to take part or you’d like to help support the groups, then please get in touch with us on

Also give our Facebook Page a like!

Picture of Rowan


Rowan is a Year 9 student and a YDNPA Young Ranger

4 Replies to “Volunteering during lockdown: the Diary of a Young Ranger”

  1. Michael Richardson says:

    Rowan. Really enjoyed reading your notes. Great stuff. All the best to you.

  2. Trish Woof says:

    Young Rangers is absolutely fantastic.
    Both my girls are involved.
    In fact the Eldest is now an apprentice with The Yorkshire Dales National Parks based at Tebay.

  3. Malcolm says:

    Well done Rowan! Carry on the good work

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