The winners of the UK National Parks Volunteer Awards have been announced and for the Brecon Beacons National Park it’s a double celebration. Volunteer Jo Minihane won the Individual award category and the Nepalese Community Footpath Group were Group category award winners. The annual awards give recognition and thanks to all the volunteers who work hard, helping protect the special landscapes of Britain’s 15 National Parks each year.
Individual award winner, Jo Minihane, has been volunteering for the Brecon Beacons National Park for around 18 months. In that time Jo has undertaken a wide range of volunteer roles including practical work carrying out footpath repairs and ground maintenance as well as leading on a project with a local MIND eco group at the National Park Visitor Centre. He adds: “I am volunteering up to seven days a week but to me this is not work. I enjoy the different experiences and varied projects immensely and always look for a new opportunity. Every day is different and I have learned so much. The people I meet are wonderful.”
Jo is a strong testament to the incredible benefits of volunteering and he also wins £100 worth of outdoor equipment.
Group award winners the Nepalese Community Footpath Group were recognized for the incredible work they carried out in Brecon. The path they restored, now officially named, ‘ The Gurkha Path’, leads from Brecon Prom to Fenni Fach. It was restored over six months by the Gurkha community who wanted to do something in response to the extraordinary generosity shown by the people of Brecon after the earthquake devastated Nepal.
Television presenter Julia Bradbury has served as a judge for the Volunteer Awards since their inception and is well known for her love and support of the outdoors – she commented; “Having restored a footpath along the River Usk, the Brecon Nepalese Community has worked to make the area accessible again to both locals and visitors. A multi-cultural community working at it’s very best – this is an inspiring example of a community convergence driving to maintain the condition of their environment for everyone to enjoy. I know many other people will agree that the work done here is absolutely fabulous.”
Gurung Guptaman, Volunteer Coordinator from the Brecon Nepalese Society responded; “It is a huge honour and privilege for me and the Nepalese community that our hard work has been recognised with such an award. We started the project with a simple objective in mind and that was to help us integrate into the local community. We never imagined receiving this kind of recognition or getting awards. I am sure the whole community will be overwhelmed with the breaking news and it will motivate us further for bigger and better projects in the future.”
Along with the award the Nepalese Community Footpath Group will receive a £1000 bursary to go towards continuing that fantastic work on further footpaths in Brecon.
Mel Doel, Chairman of the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority added;
“The annual UK National Parks Volunteer Awards highlight the incredible things volunteers around the UK do to help look after Britain’s Breathing Spaces. For volunteers from the Brecon Beacons National Park to be both nominated and win two awards is a fantastic achievement and one they should be so proud of. On behalf of the National Park I congratulate Jo Minihane and the Nepalese Community Footpath Group for their superb work.”
To find out more about volunteering within the Brecon Beacons National Park visit www.beacons-npa.gov.uk/the-authority/volunteering/