Place your Trust in the value of volunteering

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Volunteering by Sue Palmer from the Volunteer Centre at Bossard House, West Street, Leighton Buzzard...

Spring is in the air! Days are noticeably longer, the clocks are about to go forward and blossom is breaking through.

And, to coincide with the impending bulb bonanza, the National Trust is again opening the gates to its vast collection of houses, gardens and heritage sites.

We are fortunate in this area to have several National Trust sites on our doorstep, including Whipsnade Tree Catherdral, Ashridge Estate and Ascott House, plus many more within easy reach by bike, car or public transport.

However, one National Trust site we are all familiar with, impressively dominating our landscape, is Dunstable Downs. A Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), the Downs boasts miles of footpaths, two Scheduled Ancient Monuments (Five Knolls and Medieval Rabbit Warrens) and rare native plants and insects.

Its views across four counties will take your breath away, as you watch red kites (of both bird and fabric-and-string variety) swooping in unison.

The Gateway Centre on Dunstable Downs has a cafe and gift shop with panoramic views, and a seasonal schedule of family-friendly events which are well attended by locals and visitors alike. But all activities, seasonal or otherwise, rely on highly valued National Trust Volunteers, and the Trust is currently recruiting Event Helpers, Rangers, Retail Assistants and other roles, to boost its teams.

In return for their time, volunteers are given a high level of training, chances to volunteer alongside experts in their field and the opportunity to make long-lasting friendships. You can also link to vInspired and Duke of Edinburgh Awards. Despite this, most say the biggest incentive is becoming part of a respected charity that preserves our country’s heritage.

No other organisation brings such an incredible variety of places and spaces to life, but they need help to do this. By volunteering at Dunstable Downs, your talents will be put to good use and the rewards are apparent. You can find out more by contacting Volunteer Centre Central Bedfordshire on 01525 850559. We open week days 9.30am – 3.00pm or you can email volunteer@action-centralbeds.org.uk.