The chairman in charge of a voluntary team, who work within Thetford Forest, is looking to the future after gaining recognition from Her Majesty The Queen.
The Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk, Clare, Countess of Euston, presented The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service to the team last week.
They were the only voluntary organisation in Suffolk to be awarded this year and Anne Mason, head of the Friends of Thetford Forest (FoTF), said she was overjoyed that the team had been given the award, which is the equivalent of an MBE.
She said: “That in itself is absolutely amazing. I am just immensely proud of the volunteers for the commitment they always bring.”
The FoTF have supported the Forestry Commission since 1995 in activities such as helping with the conservation of wildlife habitats, researching and protecting archaeology and heritage, caring for Lynford Arboretum, inspecting the walking trails, carrying out a ‘Meet and Greet’ role at High Lodge Centre and helping at the concerts and special events.
The chairman hopes this recognition will prompt new members to join the voluntary team.
She said: “We have great volunteers here already, who in several ways have been with us for 10 years or more, work in all the different areas and are always happy to pass on their experience to new members, which is so helpful to the group.”
The volunteers contribute more than 3,500 hours to the forest each year, which does not go unseen and is fully appreciated by the chairman.
She said: “I thank them for their continuing enthusiasm. When you talk to the volunteers they say they find it very rewarding themselves to help people enjoy the forest. They feel it is a good way to give something back.”
“The award has simply inspired us all, we do not do it for recognition but this award really is incredible.”
Two future projects the friends are assisting the Forestry Commission with will be updating the nature and Goshawk trails at High Lodge as well as asking members and the public what projects they think the friends should take on next.
To pass on your views email firstname.lastname@example.org or for details about the work of the group or to volunteer go to www.fotf.org.uk