This time last year we were hosting an evening of thanks and celebration for all of our Orkney RSPB volunteers, with staff and volunteers coming together to enjoy an evening of talks and displays, food and catching up, and celebrating the hard work of all our volunteers.  It was a great evening, and little did we know then that it would be one of the last chances to get together for a while!  During the evening, Long Service awards were presented to many of our volunteers, and we took the opportunity to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the RSPB Orkney Local Group providing support to the RSPB in Orkney. 

RSPB staff, volunteers and Local Group committee members at a 'Thank You' evening in February 2020, photo by Christine Hall

Set up in 1985, the Orkney Local Group is made up of local RSPB members and functions as a support system for the Orkney RSPB team. The group carry out a range of activities on behalf of the RSPB, from helping to run the tent at the annual Orkney County Show, representing RSPB at the Orkney Charities Bazaar Christmas Fair, and taking part in many fundraising activities.  Over the past three decades, the Local Group has raised an incredible £20,000 for the society!

RSPB Local Group and staff members running a stall at the Christmas VAO Charities Bazaar, November 2019, photo by Eleanor Davison

Local Group members run fieldtrips across the Mainland and islands, with the support of local RPSB staff, which are open to RSPB supporters and other members of the public alike.  These trips are a great opportunity for anyone to experience the wonders of Orkney’s wildlife alongside passionate and knowledgeable guides. A regular bulletin entitled ‘Latest Happenings’ is sent out by group secretary Pauline Wilson to members, detailing upcoming events, trips and other information.


A misty birdwatching trip to Sanday organised by RSPB Local Group, September 2019 , photos by Eleanor Davison and Alan Leitch

Local Group Chair Dick Matson is at the front of the first picture, while Sites Manager Alan Leitch seems to be reading out something interesting to the group!  An exciting find of migrating birds has been spotted in the second picture!

The Local Group have helped to raise the profile of RPSB Scotland in Orkney in a very positive way, and the support of the members, and in particular the hard work and commitment of the committee members, is very much appreciated by the Orkney staff and members of the public.


 RSPB Local Group AGM with talks given by RSPB Orkney staff, November 2019, photos by Eleanor Davison

During the Thank You evening last February, Grace Currie, Local Group committee member, received her award to recognise 30 years of volunteering for the RSPB.  Graham and Kathie Brown, Treasurer and committee member respectively, both received their 10 year long service awards. Dick Matson, Local Group Chair, and Pauline Wilson, Local Group Secretary, had both received their 20 year long service awards in 2016. Shirley Tolley, committee member, received her 5 year award, with Robert Wilson, committee member, having received his 5 year award in 2018.

In recognition of the 35 years of  support provided by the Local Group in Orkney, Dick Matson was presented with a personal Thank You card from Anne McCall, Director of RSPB Scotland, which he accepted on behalf of the group.

We hope that Local Group and other volunteering activities will be able to return to normality soon, and in the meantime, we are looking back to a great night last year and would like to say a big Thank You! again to all of our volunteers for all the hard work they contribute to the work of the RSPB in Orkney - THANK YOU!

More birdwatching with the Local Group on Sanday September 2019, photo by Eleanor Davison