Outstanding environmental volunteers celebrated in our Trustees’ Awards for Volunteering 2022

Several outstanding volunteers have received our Trustees’ Awards for Volunteering recognising their dedication to caring for their local environment and championing wildlife.

Young Volunteer – Charlie Drapala, Edinburgh

A member of our Young Leaders programme since 2018, the 26 year old has championed for greater inclusion and accessibility to increase the reach of our work.

Initiatives Charlie has been instrumental in delivering include advocating for wildlife at a political level and educating the wider public about environmental issues at events.

Currently, she is studying Animal and Conservation Biology at Napier University in the city and would encourage other young people to get involved with our Young Leaders programme.

She said: “I joined the Young Leaders programme to become a driver for change and help provide a platform for youth voices to be heard. Through the role, I’ve had many opportunities to lead projects and collaborate with other conservation-based agencies, which has greatly increased my confidence and skills for my future career.

Group of young children with two adults receiving a certificate
Castlemilk Explorers Wildlife Watch Group receiving their Volunteer Group Award from our Chair Linda Rosborough.

Volunteer Group Award – Castlemilk Explorers Wildlife Watch Group, Glasgow
Castlemilk Explorers Wildlife Watch group deliver monthly fun activities to children, aged between 7 – 12 years, on a Saturday morning. Running for 4 years their activities include mini beast hunts, team games, outdoor play and natural crafts that all help to develop a curiosity and understanding of the wildlife and plants in Castlemilk Park.

Topics such as climate change, land use and responsible access are all presented in an engaging manner by Cassiltoun Housing Association’s Community Woodland Officer, Stuart Whittaker who started the group. He said:

“I would really encourage other young people to get active in nature, if you don’t know where to start you can get involved in a local initiative. It’s so rewarding to know that you’re making a difference in your community, and knowing that you’re not alone in your mission to improve the world we live in. ”

Topics such as climate change, land use and responsible access are all presented in an engaging manner by Cassiltoun Housing Association’s Community Woodland Officer, Stuart Whittaker who started the group.

He said: “The Scottish Wildlife Trust Trustees’ Group Award is for recognition of the volunteering, planning, time given and enthusiasm that the Castlemilk Park Project Volunteers show time after time in delivering the sessions for the Castlemilk Explorers Wildlife Watch group.

“Cassiltoun Housing Association started the group four years ago as part of their wider community development projects and many children have enjoyed learning about nature, the environment, having fun and the importance of the unique urban green space of Castlemilk Park.

“These Wildlife Watch sessions would not run be able to run without the amazing contribution from all the volunteers involved, some of whom have moved into employment in nature conservation and outdoor education, which is fantastic.”

Species Champion – Charlie Darling, Edinburgh

Since 2006 Charlie Darling has volunteered to process species records gathered from our 115 reserves.

To date he has checked, digitised and uploaded more than 145,000 vital species records totalling more than half of our total record count. He has also collected around 7,000 records on the reserves mostly in the Edinburgh area, such as Bawsinch and Duddingston Loch, which is his favourite local wildlife reserve due to the wide variety of species that can be found there, such as kingfishers, otters and nuthatches.

Charlie has a keen interest in all wildlife with invertebrates being his key passion. He said: “When I am recording, I am also photographing wildlife, mostly invertebrates, with solitary bees being a particular interest. I enjoy finding species which are new to reserves and most of the time new to me as well. I like being outdoors in the fresh air too.

“I wouldn’t say digitising records is enjoyable, but somebody must do it. However, the interest for me is in new or rare or unusual species being recorded.

“For anyone who records wildlife sightings but doesn’t log them I would suggest they submit their records to the Scottish Wildlife Trust if they are on one of their reserves, or if not to The Wildlife Information Centre (TWIC) or online with iRecord so that they eventually get on to the NBN Atlas. I believe that people should be able to use the Atlas to find places where they can see species which interest them.”



Lifetime Achievement Award – Mary and Tom Harwood, Dundee

Mary and Tom have both been involved with The Miley reserve close to the city centre of Dundee since 2000 organising a weekly litter pick and an annual leaf clean up to prevent the path from being slippery to walk along in autumn and winter.

Mary’s yearly legendary quiz sheet along with a plant sale raises funds to help towards the upkeep of the reserve. Numerous nursery and primary school children have enjoyed trips along The Miley learning about the importance of this city sanctuary for wildlife using binoculars and reference books to learn more about urban wildlife. All arranged by the dedicated duo. Mary said:

“When we were first asked to volunteer on The Miley, I jumped at the chance because of what The Miley meant to me. I was brought up in the area and used to walk the old path on my way to school. When it became a dump and was closed to people, it made me sad.

“Tom had never used it, having lived in another part of town but he loved the variety of birds to be seen and heard there and has grown to love The Miley as much as I do. We weren’t aware that it had become a wildlife site, again neglected. The first time we saw it together with the other volunteers, the path was covered in litter and the bushes were covered in dog bags. We set up a litter picking rota and slowly people started to use the bins. Now it is a wonderful place to be, a haven of peace where the trees, plants and other wildlife are left to be as they should. We are proud to be a part of the team who look after The Miley.”


Man holding a certifcate

Special Lifetime Achievement Award – Allan Bantick OBE, Boat of Garten, Highland

Allan was our Chair between 2008 and 2014 and became a very well-loved figure across the world of nature conservation through his huge passion for nature and his active involvement in countless initiatives. His many achievements include being the first Chair of the Scottish Beaver Trial, in which the Trust was one of two lead partner organisations alongside the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland. This was the first ever formal scientific trial reintroduction of a mammal to the UK and its successful conclusion led, a few years later, to the confirmation in Scotland of protected species status for this ecosystem engineer.

Allan has had three careers – serving in the RAF, music composition and latterly, nature conservation. He is delighted with this award.

He said: “My grateful thanks go to the members and trustees of the Scottish Wildlife Trust for allowing me the opportunity to lead on work during such an exciting phase of the Trust’s history, which included the launch of the successful Scottish Beaver Trial and Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels project. Despite these successes much still needs to be done, not least of which being the need to strengthen laws that protect the future security of our precious wild creatures and their habitats. This is not as altruistic it sounds, because the future of our own human species depends upon a healthy natural world.”

Tim Duffy, Vice Chair of the Scottish Wildlife Trust is impressed with the difference local volunteers are making. He said: “The Trustees’ Awards for Volunteering have been presented to inspiring people who are making a big difference in their local area. It is important that volunteers are recognised for their collective contribution to supporting the Trusts’ work across Scotland managing reserves, sharing valuable wildlife data, enabling more people to learn about the wildlife on their doorstep and to enjoy the health and wellbeing benefits of spending more time in nature.

“They are all shining examples of active citizens who understand the importance of taking local direct action to help wildlife thrive across Scotland.

“All volunteers are crucial to the work of the Scottish Wildlife Trust. I would encourage everyone to get involved caring for their local wildlife. The Trustees’ Awards for Volunteering 2022 show that there are numerous ways people can help nature.”

The Trustees’ Awards are supported from players of People’s Postcode Lottery to enable more environmental action and develop volunteers’ skills, knowledge and community connections.

Laura Chow, Head of Charities at People’s Postcode Lottery is impressed with the range of activities volunteers have undertaken. She said:

“This unique opportunity benefits the conservation and protection of our environments and fosters new connections and skills. We are thrilled that players of People’s Postcode Lottery are supporting the Scottish Wildlife Trust in pursuit of a healthy, resilient ecosystem across Scotland. In fact, by playing together and winning together, our players across Britain have now raised a total of more than £950 million for over 9,000 good causes, including the care of our local wildlife.”

Discover the wide range of volunteering opportunities you can get involved with to support the Scottish Wildlife Trust.

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Several outstanding volunteers have received our Trustees’ Awards for Volunteering recognising their dedication to caring for their local environment and championing wildlife. Young Volunteer – Charlie Drapala, Edinburgh A member …

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