Your RSPB Local Group is the friendly face of the RSPB in the community and a great way to engage with nature near you. Over the next few weeks we'll be taking a closer look at RSPB Local Groups. This week Andre Farrar looks back at the many ways Local Groups have had an impact on his life.

Our local group network celebrates its Golden Jubilee this year. A real milestone. But the origins of the group network go further back to a time when the RSPB was producing some of the finest wildlife films available and showing them to packed audiences throughout the UK. I joined the RSPB in 1971 at the Canterbury film show, which was introduced by none other than Trevor Gunton – the driving force behind the establishment of the Group Network.

A few years later I become active in the Leeds Members’ Group before being lucky enough to get a job with the RSPB where one of my responsibilities was looking after the Groups in my region – this involved starting six of them!

Life has come full circle and now I’m back on the committee of the Canterbury RSPB Local Group – in addition to my role as roving speaker for the Volunteers Department. I have bookings stretching into 2021 already and I’m enjoying developing and sharing my programme of talks which aim to highlight the enormous successes the RSPB is having – but always recognising that the challenges to wildlife, the natural world and our shared environment. The recent publication of the State of Nature report highlights the issues.

Back in 1969 the dawning of the age of environmental awareness was in full swing. The formation of the Group network backed up by the film show programme and a period of intense public engagement, enabled the RSPB to convert concern for the environment, as well as interest and enthusiasm for birds, into the resources to make a real difference for nature. Our nature reserves, species recovery projects and world-leading science continue to put the RSPB in the front line of conservation.

Our local groups continue to provide a window on the RSPB’s world with programmes of talks from well-known speakers – often from organisations that the RSPB works closely with. There are chances to visit great places to see birds and wildlife, both locally and further afield. Our groups also provide opportunities to help the wildlife you enjoy by volunteering. From helping on a local reserve, contributing to the activities of the group, raising funds, recruiting members to giving talks and helping to spread the word. But fundamentally our local groups bring together people moved by the world around them and the birds that continue to inspire us.