Maggie and I had been friends for a few years prior to discovering Hollybush. I remember Maggie ringing me in a highly excited state to tell me about an amazing place she’d just happened to be passing and had decided to investigate. We arranged to meet for a coffee in the cafe a few days later. We quickly got chatting to some friendly volunteers and before we knew it, we’d signed up to do a short course in woodwork which lead to us getting to know the staff and other volunteers. We then went on to do a bushcraft course and started going out on task with other volunteers to a variety of locations on the Hollybush vans. We enjoyed some wonderful days at various sites taking part in a multitude of conservation projects.
The adventure really gathered momentum in 2014 when Maggie and I were encouraged to enrol on the Environmental Conservation Diploma. The group was diverse and consisted of students with a variety of skills and life experiences. Each student brought something special to the mix. No two days were ever the same and every day was memorable. We were privileged to have an incredibly knowledgeable trainer who supported and guided us through the course with commitment, patience and endless encouragement.
Over the two years, we covered a wide variety of conservation units including coppicing, footpath laying, managing vegetation, improving ponds and wetlands, hedgelaying, surveying, constructing and repairing river banks and stone walls. We carried out practical assessments on site and covered written work and theory in the classroom at Hollybush.
In terms of personal development, we acquired educational, intellectual, social and practical skills. We all grew tremendously as individuals and as a group. I feel that everyone surpassed their own expectations. We succeeded in achieving Levels 1 and 2.
This amazing experience and the people involved will always hold a special place in our memories and our hearts as we both agree, they really were two of the best years of our lives so far. Discovering Hollybush literally changed my life for the better. We have both continued to be involved with Hollybush and can’t imagine that will ever change.