Honouring 50 years of voluntary involvement in Yorkshire’s wildlife conservation, the QAVS is the MBE for volunteer groups and represents the highest award given to local volunteer groups across the UK to recognise outstanding work done in their own communities.
The inspiring award comes in the same year that Potteric Carr celebrates its Golden Jubilee, and recognises the perseverance of dedicated volunteers through a number of difficulties that could have affected the site’s very existence.
Speaking on behalf of the 80 registered volunteers, some with over 40 years of service, David Carroll said: “The thrilling news of this prestigious award in recognition of Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s epic achievements involving Potteric Carr’s development from a 13 ha site entirely managed by volunteers in 1968 to the YWT flagship, staffed reserve of 250 ha today, is a landmark in the nature reserve’s history. Wildlife conservation here has benefited enormously from our volunteers with, for example, eight rare bird species finding protection at Potteric Carr including bittern and marsh harrier. Volunteers have also engaged with the reserve’s 40,000 visitors, offering interpretation of the site and its importance to wildlife conservation.”
Potteric Carr is an area of low-lying land to the southeast of Doncaster which forms the floodplain of the River Torne. The site is fabulous for birdwatching with marsh and water birds being particularly numerous. The grand total of oﬃcially accepted birds recorded at Potteric Carr from 1968 to the end of 2017 was 237 with a remarkable total of 106 bird species known to have bred there over the past 50 years.
The mosaic of habitats we see today is largely due to recent management work by the Trust's staff and its hardworking volunteers. Over a period of 150 years various attempts were made at draining the area, the final and inevitably successful attempt was in the 1760s. By the 1960s mining subsidence caused the site to return to fenland and its associated wildlife gradually reappeared.
In 1968, a small area (13 ha) was declared a nature reserve by Yorkshire Wildlife Trust. Over time the area of the site was gradually increased by purchase or lease and is now a regionally important nature reserve spanning 250 hectares and providing a Gateway to Yorkshire’s Wildlife.
Throughout its history volunteers have helped shape the reserve’s landscape and helped its wildlife thrive in an ever more challenging climate. Surrounded by development and transport infrastructure the reserve wouldn’t be here without these incredibly dedicated people who have given up thousands of hours to ensure Yorkshire’s wildlife is there for future generations.
Professor Sir John Lawton CBE FRS, President of the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust said: “Yorkshire Wildlife Trust is indeed fortunate to have such a wonderful ‘crew’ on board at Potteric Carr. With over 100 reserves across Yorkshire we benefit enormously from other teams of volunteers across many of our sites, and it isn’t easy to select just one group for special mention. But in my judgement, having worked in wildlife conservation for over 50 years myself, the Potteric Carr team are quite exceptional in the breadth, depth and longevity of their efforts. They richly deserve recognition through the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.”
Members of the public will have an opportunity to visit Potteric Carr free of charge at our 50th Jubilee Big Weekend on the 21st and 22nd July. We will have a host of events for people to get more connected with wildlife or you can just enjoy a walk around our wonderful reserve that has been cared for so devotedly by our newly commended volunteers since 1968.
For more details on the Potteric Carr 50th Big Weekend keep an eye on our events page or call the Potteric Carr Team on 01302365995.