On 14 April 1995, after years of initial development, RSPB Conwy nature reserve opened it's gates to the public. Throughout April, we want to commemorate this milestone, and celebrate our 25th anniversary with you! As part of this celebration, we will be sharing what RSPB Conwy means to the people at the heart of the reserve - our fantastic staff (both past and present), and our amazing volunteers. Each blog has been written by various members of our team, as they share with us what RSPB Conwy means to them. We hope that you will enjoy these unique insights, and join us in celebrating 25 years of giving nature a home!

Helen Jowett – Current Site Manager

RSPB Conwy, whilst only a small reserve in size is a big reserve in what it has to offer, and I feel so very fortunate to be working here with such an amazing group of volunteers and staff. Although I wasn’t working here 25 years ago, when the reserve first opened to the public, I remember it being created. When my children were small, I sometimes brought them down to RSPB Conwy to come and watch robins and jump in muddy puddles in their wellies.

I started my real involvement with the reserve as Visitor Experience Manager in 2014, this was a new role to the reserve which gave me opportunities to grow our volunteer involvement, organise a range of events, manage our nature connection targets through schools visiting the reserves, develop interpretation and try new initiatives.

In my time here I meet and work alongside some brilliant people particularly through the volunteers that support our cause, and I would say that the range of backgrounds and skills that these volunteers bring with them never ceases to amaze me. Whether it be repairing the boardwalk, leading a school group, collecting litter, sharing knowledge and passion for wildlife – our volunteers make a lot possible.

Highlights that stand out to me from my time here are many and varied, but they come with an overwhelming feeling of there being a happy atmosphere full of cakes, laughs and wonderful wildlife! During a Big Wild Sleep Out that we were running for the Betws y Coed Beaver group, it was such a cold night there was ice on the outside of children's tents. I overheard one young Beaver say to another, ‘Why are we doing this?’ In response his pal said, ‘So we are the toughest Beavers in the world!’ It made me grin and feel very lucky to be spending time with these young people who had such a positive attitude and loved all the experiences that we gave them at RSPB Conwy to appreciate wildlife, from night time bat detecting to being wowed by pond creatures.

 One of my favourite times of the day at the reserve is going around before morning opening time, checking the ponies, and seeing what wildlife is about. I usually take a few moments to stop at the Bridge Pond and take in what is around me. I shared this moment with a stunning kingfisher one morning when it landed on the bridge right next to me, I held my breath and just watched it – a special moment indeed.

I think that the value of wildlife and spending time in the natural environment is priceless for our health and wellbeing, so we really need to respect and care for it. At RSPB Conwy we are providing a home for nature, a place where people can connect to nature and an income generating operation through our catering, retail, events and membership to help the wider conservation work of the RSPB.

To think that the reserve was created from the millions of tonnes of mud from the construction of the River Conwy road tunnel, and has had its doors open to visitors now for 25 years is a fantastic achievement, with many people to thank along the way, and is certainly something to celebrate- we are giving nature a home at RSPB Conwy!

                                  Happy 25th Birthday RSPB Conwy!