From Volunteer to Forest team member, I've watched the trees and charity grow

By Tony Crofts ǀ Ranger/Site Maintenance Officer, Forest of Marston Vale

How it all began...

I have lived in Stewartby since the early 1990s, so was very familiar with the area before the Forest of Marston Vale (and originally Marston Vale Trust) existed, and I watched the landscape being transformed as the Forest was created and more tree planting was taking place. I was a house husband at the time, but as my two kids were becoming young teens I had spare time to fill. In late 2006 I attended a very informative open evening to see what plans the (then) MVT had for the Forest of Marston Vale. The Head Ranger explained that they were looking for volunteers and I put my name down to help.

In the beginning I helped out once a week, which quickly turned into twice a week. I successfully applied to be Volunteer Seasonal Weekend Ranger, which meant that I was often working four days a week.

I have a mechanical and woodworking background and it seemed that every time something broke someone suggested “let Tony have a look!” - sometimes I'd even get call outs on my days off to sort out mechanical breakdowns! Memorable tasks included winching our upside-down Kubota tractor out of a brook and getting the mower out of the café lake. I did get both machines fully working again!

In September 2010 I was appointed Site Maintenance Officer, just in time for the 'Woodworks!' festival, which at the time was a very popular weekend of woodland management, crafts and entertainment. It's been non-stop ever since and I've not looked back!

During the last two years the Team has expanded to take on all the other sites - the extra work has been a steep, but enjoyable, learning curve for me.

Over the years I have loved looking after the Park and seeing it grow. It is really rewarding when members of the public spend time telling us what a lovely place it is and what a great job the team is doing. What I really hate is finding out that there has been mindless vandalism, and needing to waste valuable time making repairs.

I love the outdoors and continue to enjoy this beautiful place to work.

How you can make a difference

All money donated to our charity goes directly to funding the work that Tony and the Ranger team does maintaining our sites for visitors and for wildlife. If you want to help us grow and protect the Forest, please consider a small monthly donation:

Become a Friend of the Forest