Today’s Volunteers’ Week blog comes from Robin Brown, who describes his time volunteering at Portmore Lough as “immensely rewarding”…

My volunteering with RSPB began in April 2012. I had retired from business sometime previously and was at a loss to know how to fill my daytime hours. As a keen cyclist at the time, I invariably ended up at their Portmore Lough Nature Reserve close to Lough Neagh in Northern Ireland, and eventually, having been spotted by the manager on several occasions, I was asked if I would consider volunteering since “I was on site often enough anyway”. I readily agreed and after the initial process of induction was completed I duly began, what has probably been for me, one of the best chapters of my life.


Varied work

The work I do is quite varied in that it involves me getting to grips with things like volunteer coordination, people engagement (which I really enjoy), some survey work, maintenance work on fences, buildings and gates, grass cutting in our public areas, and a weekly site integrity check which is done to ensure standards are kept to the highest level. I would also undertake some internal office duties such as expenses processing, updating avian records, inputting volunteer working hours and during the breeding season, recording weather data on the computer system. Another task is to take a monthly photo shoot at the same locations around the reserve so we can monitor the changes throughout the four seasons.

There is no doubt that at times there are frustrations particularly in relation to our weather when it can be a bit unpleasant when horizontal rain or sleet is hitting you full in the face, or a full blown gale is howling in your ears but when the weather is good, like last summer, there is no place else I would rather be.


Fantastically dedicated people

There can also be no doubt too, that one of the best aspects of being a volunteer is meeting with and working alongside fantastically dedicated people, both staff members and volunteers alike, all working together towards the common goal of helping to save nature. At Portmore, we have the additional rewards of working with visiting residential volunteers who come and work with us either for long-term or short-term periods. We have in the past had them from the UK and Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, Lebanon and even Australia and they all have contributed enormously to the day to day life of the reserve bringing with them refreshing new ideas and their varying cultures.


Personally, I find volunteering immensely rewarding and find that I learn something new nearly every day that I am there. To be part of a world class conservation organisation like RSPB and know that in some way I am contributing to their goals and objectives I consider to be a privilege and gives me great deal of personal satisfaction. I would recommend it to everyone.


Robin Brown


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