Mary Styles moved from the West Country to Glemsford earlier this year to take up the post of Rector in the Glem Valley benefice. She joined our conservation volunteering team this spring.
What inspired you to join our team?
I was looking for ways to meet new friends in the area, having come from the other side of the country, and, at the same time, to do something to help local wildlife.
You’ve lived in different places and different countries. Have you always enjoyed the outdoors?
Yes, definitely – it’s the best place to be! It’s only recently I’ve heard the media naming the importance to our mental health of being outside, looking at green things, exercising and breathing fresh air – but I think I’ve always known deep down that I feel so much better after being outside.
How would you describe your experience of Friday volunteering?
It’s brilliant to meet a mix of people and to learn from some experts about the wildlife around me. I’m a beginner at everything but I’m enjoying being part of a team who are happy to share their skills from raking up grass to erecting and taking down gazebos. Last week I helped clear the pond of excessive reeds. I’m glad I didn’t need to use the throw-line to rescue those working from the small boat!
Apart from conservation volunteering, what else do you enjoy doing in your down time?
I love to get out for a long walk in the countryside. I am enjoying the new scenery on this side of the country, and seeing hares and red kites along the way (which never crossed my path in the West Country).
Hopefully you feel properly off-duty on a Friday; but are there ways your involvement with the reserve has connected with your parish ministry?
It was a real bonus to discover Foxearth Meadows on my doorstep when I took up this job – it’s not in my parish, but is right next door and close enough for parishioners to join in some of the outdoor worship. Glemsford Parish had already gained their silver Eco Church award before I arrived and we continue to tap into A Rocha UK’s resources and ideas to keep that work going. Having Foxearth Meadows so close provides a great link as well as a source of wisdom as we care for our church and churchyard.
How does your faith tie in with your care for the environment?
The natural world runs all through scripture from beginning to end – it’s part of the fabric of the Bible. I regard this world in which we live as a stunning gift from God and so I need to care for and nurture this gift (just as I might do with a talent given to me). It’s also important for me to be doing this caring with other people, so being with others at Foxearth Meadows is a small part of this. I learn from others and we work out together how best to curate that small space. Many of the tasks require a multitude of talents – many of which I do not possess!