It's 50 years, come rain or shine, for this hardy Sheffield volunteer...
Her love of the great outdoors, and of the Peak District National Park on her doorstep, in particular, led to 50 years’ voluntary service for Margaret Anderson.
Her devotion to the countryside and the people who live there or frequent it, has been recognised with an award from the National Park Authority.
Margaret, now aged 72, from Sheffield, completed her training for the role of warden, as rangers were known then, in the summer of 1969.
Her first patrol was on Sunday, August 3, at Langsett, and, despite having to catch three buses to get there, was where she regularly undertook conservation patrols.
These took place mainly to help protect ground-nesting birds’ eggs from poachers.
Margaret said she was attracted to the role by an advert in The Star newspaper – sister title of the Telegraph – that caught her eye.
She said: “After leaving university, my mother was not happy about me going out walking by myself.
“When I saw an advert in The Star for a training course to become a warden, I said to her: 'if I pass that would you accept I can go walking by myself?'
“I did pass and was offered the role, which I was happy to take as it got me out into the fresh air and gave me exercise.
“It helped me deal with work pressures as I could forget about clients and their problems.”
In her working life, Margaret became a solicitor in private practice doing mainly court work until 1995, and then moved on to doing employment tribunals throughout the UK.
Whatever her work commitments. she always somehow managed to fit in her fortnightly shifts as a ranger.
Over the years, she undertook volunteering duties in many beauty spots including Crowden, Glossop, Edale, Hartington, Eastern Edges, and Millers Dale, before joining the Derwent area team in 1981.
Volunteer rangers carry out a variety of work across the Peak District National Park, that might include tasks such as gtaking the role of leader on guided walks, and advising the public on all manner of queries.
They are also responsible for conservation tasks, such as repairing footpaths and drystone walls.
Margaret said: “I like helping people, whether it’s explaining where they are and how to get to places using their maps, or talking about their memories of places in the National Park from their childhoods.
“It’s great still to get out in the fresh air, watch the birds, and help people enjoy the landscape.”
Although she has other interests, including watching theatre and opera productions, there is no sign of Margaret hanging up her well-used walking boots just yet.
She said: “I help out on guided health walks and attend other events. I can’t see me giving up while there are so many interesting things to do.”
Chair of the National Park Authority Andrew McCloy said: “There are not many causes that can inspire a person to dedicate their spare time to over such a long period of their life, but I’m delighted to say that the Peak District National Park has.
“It is a pleasure to be able to congratulate Margaret Anderson on her commitment to the UK’s first national park.
“Her fifty years of dedication are an inspiration to us all.”
Volunteers in general are people who love the Peak Ditrict for its beauty and heritage, and want to help protect, maintain and enhance it for future generations.
This can include maintaining rights of way; developing education resources; surveying cultural heritage assets or leading health walks.
Volunteers range in age from 16 to 85 and come from all walks of life, with many varied experiences.
For over 40 years the Peak Park Conservation Volunteers has worked with a huge variety of people, helping them to enjoy and understand the qualities of the Peak District National Park.
This scheme provides a unique opportunity for individuals to join in and help protect the environment through practical conservation projects. They can also enjoy a positive, informative, and fun experience through their volunteering activity.
Anyone can join in with the PPCV Individual programme, although anyone under 18 must have a parent or guardian with them.
The project runs on the last Friday and weekend in the month, and it’s easy and free to get involved.
To find out more about volunteering within the Peak District National Park, visit www.peakdistrict.gov.uk/volunteering.