Hard working volunteers for the landscape charity Friends of the Lake District were recognised and rewarded at a special awards event at the Windermere Jetty Museum on Thursday 25 April.

The ninety-year-old charity, which owns various pieces of land throughout Cumbria, has around 50 active volunteers who contributed around 1,500 hours of time to maintaining the charity’s landscapes in 2023 alone. Volunteers help repair dry stone walls and footpaths, plant trees and care for existing woodland, among many other activities as part of weekly work parties. There are also volunteers who help in the charity’s Kendal office and a newly trained team of 12 ambassadors who will be supporting Friends of the Lake District at events throughout the summer and beyond. Besides those volunteers, there is also the board of trustees, all of whom give up their time to help steer the charity’s vital work.

There were three main awards handed out on the day: New Volunteer of the Year, Young Volunteer of the Year, and The Jean Savage Award for Outstanding Contribution –an award given in memory of one of the charity’s most loyal and long- serving volunteers.

The three main award winners were:

The New Volunteer of the Year: Andy Ladell, who started volunteering with the charity at the end of 2022 and who has so far contributed over 160 hours of his time working on the land.

Young Volunteer of the Year: Steph Gardiner, who recently trained as a volunteer ambassador for the organisation. Steph has a passion for environmental issues and is hoping to develop her career in conservation.

The Jean Savage Award for Outstanding Contribution went to John Deans who has volunteered for the charity for the last 15 years. A retired electrical engineer, John turned to dry stone walling on his retirement and has since helped train hundreds of new volunteers in the art of walling.

Other people received service awards as a special thank you for volunteering for over 30 hours in 2023. 

CEO of Friends of the Lake District, Michael Hill said: “This was a fantastic day held to recognise the hard work and commitment of some fantastic people. We’re committed to protecting and enhancing local landscapes, and take great pride in looking after the land that we own. We could not do that without the support of our band of volunteers. I want to personally thank each and every one of them.”

If you'd like to know more about volunteering opportunities at Friends of the Lake District, click here.