Our local Volunteer Group had its first outing in 1987. Over the following 25 years, the group has been very active, with hundreds of dedicated volunteers carrying out some fantastic projects all over the country. Trees have been planted, hedges laid, litter collected, scrub cleared, meadows restored, ponds dug and footpaths improved. There is no doubt that there are many corners of our countryside which are in a much better condition as a result – and the wildlife is thriving. The rain and the mud hasn’t put us off and the odd scratch and sore back are quickly forgotten about. The satisfaction of seeing our results make it all worth while. And many long-lasting friendships have been made in the process.
Earlier this year, to mark the 25th anniversary of our group, Richard Waring (who along with his wife, Faith, was a founder of the group), joined some of us to plant an oak sapling at Gibbs Island, near Killyleagh. Hopefully this young tree will grow here for hundreds of years as a living memorial to the dedication and commitment of so many hard working custodians of our countryside.