It wasn’t my choice to be on the building team, I just wanted a place to live. I’d finished University and knew I wasn’t going to go home, and I needed somewhere to live before I got a job, and there were no jobs in 1979. I just turned up having rung Robert Evans of Leeds Conservation Volunteers, and he said there is this going on, as we (LCV) only go out at weekends. So I came and had a look, and as I walked down the drive someone said “Can you gut a rabbit?” I think Pete Barfoot had come down with some rabbits he’d been shooting, I done zoology at Uni so I said, “I’ll have a go”.
I enjoyed the voluntary section, I enjoyed getting out, when do you get to do drystone walling, hedging, some of those skills we are using now. I still love going past trees that I planted, we’ve been back to Oakwell Hall.
I remember ‘those girls’ – several delinquent 15-year olds from near Newcastle who
came on a residential team, not what you would expect on a conservation project.
They wouldn’t eat my food and I even got them meat, normal food, with less beans and they still didn’t eat it! I used to do all the cooking, after skinning the rabbit that first day, they’d asked me to cook something, and then they said, “You can definitely stay”.I used to ‘knock-off’ at 4 o’clock and do the cooking.
What…(Robert)… got out of Hollybush, was the ability to attempt almost anything, not particularly brilliantly, such as plastering. We had no money, so you bought the stuff and worked out how to do it, experimented, there was no internet in those days, we got a lot of crap advice.
I went back in 2014 and saw what became of the plans that were drawn up for the ‘Oak Climax Woodland’. There were several landscape architects on the team, Bridget was one. There was an ecologist from the Midlands (Chris Baines) who wanted to get away from the municipal version of public open space, trees, ponds and nature areas and became close friends with John Iles. “
Shirley Hyde, Early Hollybush Volunteer