Keen volunteer Les Drinkwater has been recognised for his dedication to Saltwells Nature Reserve at a recent awards ceremony.
Les, who has a background in geology, wildlife and teaching won the Local Environment Award (individual category) at this month’s Forging the Future awards.
This was the second Forging a Future For All Awards, organised by Halesowen and Dudley News and Stourbridge News, in partnership with Dudley Council, showcased how individuals and organisations have been working hard to make the borough an attractive, vibrant, healthy and safe place to live and work.
He was recognised for his geological expertise, which he has used to identify geological details on the 250 acre site, as well as sharing his passion for the subject with visitors to the reserve. His extensive knowledge has also been instrumental in raising the profile of the reserve at a national level, with the reserve expected to receive National Nature Reserve status in 2020 and plans to develop the site as part of the Black Country’s application to be awarded with the much coveted UNESCO GeoPark status.
As well as supporting new volunteers, he is a welcoming presence, running regular guided walks to educate people from all ages and backgrounds on the natural history of Saltwells. He comes to support every different conservation group which meets at Saltwells. These include the Sunday practical conservation group, Thursday practical conservation group, mid-week litter pickers, Saltwells Clean and Green, plus he has just helped set up the Friends of Saltwells Nature Reserve of which he is an active committee member.
Les also carries out work for the site from home, making and fixing things and creating a geological collection for the recently announced Education Centre.
He’s always keen to get stuck in and has been trained to use power tools and often helps out with routine maintenance
Les Drinkwater, Saltwells volunteer and winner of the Local Environment Award, said:
I love volunteering at Saltwells and being part of the Friend’s Group. It’s such a beautiful site, fascinating from a geological point of view and offering such a variety of landscapes.
It’s a joy to spend time here amongst nature and with such enthusiastic and supportive people. I’m really honoured to have received the award, and I’ll continue to be on site every opportunity I get.
Councillor Karen Shakespeare, cabinet member for environmental, highways and street services said:
Les is a wonderful man and an absolute asset to Saltwells Nature Reserve, we are incredibly lucky to count him among one of the many dedicated volunteers and friends who give their time and expertise to support the site.
Les’ geological expertise, combined with his friendly, positive nature and can-do attitude has been a real boost to the reserve and I’m really glad he has been recognised for his dedication. We have great plans for the reserve and while our own team are busy on the ground, being able to count on people like Les, our volunteers and friends means that Saltwells will continue to flourish.
There are plans to build a new £450,000 warden’s base and education centre on the reserve offering additional school visits, educational activities and forest schooling opportunities.
To find out more about what the reserve has to offer and any events search for ‘friendsofsaltwellsnaturereserve’ on facebook https://www.facebook.com/FriendsOfSaltwellsNatureReserve/