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A Dales Volunteer chats with visitors at Malham (Photographer: Stephen Garnett)

“Volunteering combines enjoyment with a sense of purpose”

Tuesday 1 June, 2021, by Alistair Thompson

I have been a Dales Volunteer since 2005 and am part of the Northern Team.

As an experienced and regular hill walker, both at home and abroad, it was a desire to get to know the Yorkshire Dales and to have a more purposeful relationship with the area that first attracted me to becoming a volunteer. Since then I have learnt much about the landscape and history of the National Park which has enhanced my understanding and appreciation of the region, and allowed me to learn more about it and explore many areas that I would not have otherwise discovered.

With this knowledge has come the opportunity to undertake a variety of walking and other related activities, including surveying paths to enable National Park Authority staff to maintain the infrastructure for the benefit of others, introducing visitors to the area through guided walks, delivering training in navigation and other skills to facilitate wider exploration of the area, and encouraging an appreciation of the health and wellbeing benefits that being connected to nature brings.

It was this engagement with the landscape and wider knowledge of the area that also led to an opportunity to be a member of the Yorkshire Dales Access Forum for nine years, four of them as Chair. My time there provided me with further valuable insights into the statutory purposes of National Parks, as well as the national and local challenges faced in developing and maintaining such protected landscapes.

So, for me, being a Dales Volunteer combines my enjoyment of hillwalking with a sense of purpose by supporting those who look after the Yorkshire Dales National Park and those who live and work in it, and a sense of achievement by becoming involved and passing on my knowledge of the area to visitors and others.


Our Dales Volunteers get involved in everything from surveying buildings to learning & engagement activities

A huge THANK YOU!

Volunteers’ Week is an 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.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Picture of Alistair Thompson

Alistair Thompson

Alistair Thompson has been a Dales Volunteer for over 15 years. Alistair is in the northern team and is involved in learning and engagement activities, as well as being our navigation skills trainer.

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