The Northumberland Coast AONB Partnership have recently welcomed Mark Furnell to their staff team as the Volunteer and Access Officer.
Initially Mark will lead on the transition of the Coast Care volunteering initiative from a partnership, with funding from National Lottery, to a wholly in-house scheme. The lottery grant enabled this project to recruit, train and support volunteers and volunteering in the AONB over four years, alongside Northumberland Wildlife Trust and the Seahouses Development Trust. The challenge now, led by Mark, will be to continue to support the team of volunteers, grow Coast Care and bring in revenue to continue the good work and a Charitable Incorporated Organisation will be established to do this.
For the last 13 years, Mark has been working as a Ranger for Urban Green Newcastle, looking after Newcastle Parks and countryside sites. He spent the first five years of this time running an environmental education and forest school programme in the west end of Newcastle. He has managed several country parks and nature reserves -including the Newcastle section of Hadrian's Way National Trail – as well as leading volunteer groups doing estate and habitat management.
Mark said: “In my new role, I am keen to make a difference. I want to champion the volunteers and empower those that have already poured energy, skills, experience and love into caring for the coast.
Volunteering with Coast Care provides opportunities to learn new skills or develop existing interests. There are a range of possibilities suitable for all abilities and backgrounds - wildlife surveying techniques, practical skills - like dry stone walling and tree planting - as well as the chance to gain new qualifications. There is no pressure to give a certain amount of time; all that’s needed is enthusiasm. Anyone wanting to volunteer with Coast Care, can contact Mark by email: email@example.com
(left to right) - Iain Robson, AONB Manager; Sarah Winlow, Historic and Built Environment Officer; Catherine Gray, Funding and Communications Officer; Mark Furnell, Volunteering and Access Offricer; Jessica Turner, Accessing Aidan Project Officer/Historic and Built Environment Officer.