It’s National Volunteers Week from 1st to 7th June and Cumbrian landscape charity Friends of the Lake District is using the event to raise awareness of the benefits of conservation volunteering and as a springboard to launch their ‘Fight the Aliens – Big Balsam Bash’ event which will take place around Rydal on Saturday 20th July, in partnership with South Cumbria Rivers Trust.

National Volunteers Week is about taking the opportunity to celebrate and say thank you for the fantastic contribution millions of volunteers make across the UK and to highlight the many ways people can choose to volunteer.

Ruth Kirk, Friends of the Lake District’s Landscape Engagement Officer said, “At Friends of the Lake District, much of our work is only possible because of the help we receive from our volunteers. They bring a whole range of different skills and interests to our work. They supply their energy and enthusiasm and we supply the cake to fuel them through their conservation tasks!

“As well as our regular conservation work parties and legendary mass-volunteering Fell Care Days, this summer, we are teaming up with South Cumbria Rivers Trust, to ‘Fight the Aliens’ at our Big Balsam Bash.

“Himalayan balsam is an invasive, non-native plant that reproduces rapidly and spreads quickly, smothering and pushing out our indigenous plants, particularly along riverbanks, lakeshores and the edges of streams, where it dies off in winter, causing erosion to riverbanks. It was introduced to the UK in 1839 and quickly escaped into the wild. Our native species simply can’t compete.

“It’s a huge problem and there’s no easy way to tackle it. Elbow grease and the energy and enthusiasm of willing volunteers are the most effective tools in fighting this alien invader.

“The Fight the Aliens – Big Balsam Bash offers the chance for you to get to grips (literally) with this increasingly pervasive weed. We are looking for a fighting force of around 60 volunteers to give up a few hours and join us on for the morning of Saturday 20th July to help remove the plant. It’s not technical so anyone who’s physically mobile can do it and it’s a very satisfying task!”

Anyone wanting to get involved with the Fight the Aliens Big Balsam Bash can sign up here or contact [email protected]  01539m720788. Booking is essential.

Drinks and, of course, cakes will be on offer after the event at The Barn at Rydal Hall. The event is also supported by the National Trust, Lake District National Park, Lowther Estates, Rydal Estate, C&S Hodgson (Rydal Hall Farm) and Lakeland Canoe Club.

Friends of the Lake District runs regular volunteer conservation work parties all year round on its land in Cumbria. See our volunteering page for more details.