Evergreen volunteers reach 30

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As ever, the range of opportunities covers plenty of ground - to take a walk in the town or country, go bird or bat watching, explore a cemetery or river, find out more about Sheffield’s industrial history ...

Sheffield Environment Weeks are 30 years old, entrenched in the city calendar, despite being organised by only a handful of volunteers on an increasingly tight budget.

“I think we are unique in this country, in not Europe, in keeping this going for such a long time,” said Pat Barsby, who chairs the working group.

“There is getting on for 200 events this year, something on every day. It’s not just about the green environment, it’s about the whole environment of Sheffield.”

From next Monday to June 8 the programme ranges from woodland walks and litter picks to tours of the Botanical Gardens and Wadsley, Burngreave and General cemeteries. A walk along Psalter Lane will explore then history of houses and residents.

It all comes together not only because of the volunteers, who deliver the free programmes to places such as the Tourism Information Centre, libraries and other community buildings, but also because of the response of community groups in providing the activities (www.sheffieldenvironment.org).

Then there’s the financial support. About half of the £2,500 required this year is coming from the Sheffield Town Trust, and there are contributions from groups such as Sheffield Conservation Volunteers, Sheffield Victorian Society, South Yorkshire Industrial History Society and motor sales frim Faralectric.

But it’s tight. There will be no big launch in Fargate this year, and printing costs are being reduced.

“The council used to give us secretarial support, but that stopped two years ago,” said Pat, who became involved as secretary of Sheffield Allotments Federation.”

Born and bred in Sheffield, Pat relishes the chance to allow herself and others to find out more about the city. Walks usually attract 15 to 20 people, “but over 100 people turned up for a walk with the Victorian Society. It was a bit overwhelming.”

Pat continues to spread the word about what has become a Sheffield institution. “I’m surprised how many people still don’t know about us.”