Alan & Rosemary Nottage joined the Foxearth Meadows team just over a year ago. “Winter 2019, just in time to dig out some sludge from the pond”. More times than not they come by bike, but still have bags of energy to put into the work task.
Read on for Alan and Rosemary’s full interview with Volunteer Community Engagement Officer at Foxearth Meadows, Andy Jowitt.
How did you get involved in volunteering at Foxearth Meadows in the first place?
We don’t work on Fridays (who wants to work 5 days a week?) and had been looking around for somewhere to get involved where we would be making a positive contribution to the environment while having fun and expending energy. We saw in the Churches Together email that Foxearth Meadows were after people, so we thought ‘Why not?’
We felt this was a way to help others and help create an environment for people to be free to discover and explore the richness that this world has to offer, while also giving nature a hand to do what it does best.
Living in Sudbury, Foxearth is only a short cycle away. Uphill on the way in, but nicely downhill once we are exhausted having completed a day’s graft.
What are the pluses and minuses of being part of the volunteering team?
The team really is made up of a great bunch of people. The work is varied and interesting. It’s great to be able to be outdoors doing something active, no two weeks are the same. Some days we will be strimming and raking to remove the grass. Other days we are digging out a stream.
The only down side is that there is so much to do and never enough time to do everything and I get told to go home (says Alan!)
You both fit volunteering work in with ‘normal’ jobs. Could you fill us in a bit on the rest of your week.
Alan works for SIM, a Christian charity based in Cambridge.The job is mainly fighting with computers and sometimes winning. Very mental. With working days being based at a desk, doing physical work outdoors helps to maintain a balance.
Rosemary works part time as a practice nurse in Castle Hedingham. In our current climate this can be quite intense and at times stressful, so it’s good to do something completely different, get outdoors and at the same time get some exercise – which she keeps advocating for her patients.
Neither of you are exactly local by origin. How did you end up in Sudbury?
Rosemary trained as a nurse in Glasgow and she lived in various places around Scotland and London before getting a job and moving to Sudbury 11 years ago.
Alan was brought up in Guildford. He met Rosemary at the Keswick Convention 8 years ago. Once married, we had options for him to move here or Rosemary to move to Guildford. Sudbury won.
I discovered one particular thing Rosemary shares in common with Dave Bookless, who co-founded A Rocha UK. (Note: A Rocha UK started some years after A Rocha’s beginnings in Portugal).
My parents were missionaries in India for 17 years, I went to Hebron School aged 9 and was there for about 5 years before our return to Scotland. Mostly Hebron was a happy time and I have some good friends from those times. I understand that Dave also went to Hebron school, but I don’t think our paths crossed.
You are members of New Life Church which normally meets in a local secondary school. Does your Christian faith have any bearing for you on your conservation volunteering?
We feel we are very blessed in our freedom to work part time. We feel it is right to use our spare time and energy doing something useful. There is something special about being close to nature and God’s creation.It’s awesome to look at the little bugs, birds and plants and wonder how they just work.
What has life been like for you with Covid and lockdowns?
Life carries on very much as normal for us. Rosemary continues to see patients. Covid has meant that Alan only goes into Cambridge once a week, so that’s nice not having to drive so much.
Usually, we would be involved with a number of conferences and camps during the year. This has been the first year for a long time that we have not been cooking meals for 100 kids on camp or making coffee at Word Alive. It’s been unusually quiet.
What would you say to anyone who is interested in visiting the reserve or joining the volunteering team?
What are you waiting for? Grab your wellies and get stuck in. Don’t pay money to sweat in a gym, come to Foxearth Meadows and do it for free. You even get cake some weeks.
Official volunteer work parties commence 10am on Friday. Please contact Reserve Manager, Mark Prina if you would like to attend. Call: 07548 209652 or email : email@example.com