A retired nurse who swapped caring for people, for nurturing wildlife and enhancing nature, is appealing for others to join her and become a volunteer shepherd with Gwent Wildlife Trust (GWT).
Pauline Gaywood, has been a volunteer shepherd with Gwent Wildlife Trust (GWT) for the past six years. The former nurse who hails from Cwmbran, but lives in Newport, joined the trust – which has 30 nature reserves throughout Gwent – in 2011, after responding to their advert for volunteers in a local newspaper.
GWT volunteer shepherds help with the charity’s specialist breed livestock which graze their nature reserves at Pentwyn Farm and Wyeswood Common, near Monmouth along with sites throughout GWT’s Living Valleys areas, including Henllys Bog nature reserve in Cwmbran.
Pauline is one of around ten current volunteer shepherds assisting GWT in the Monmouthshire area – the charity is seeking around five more people to join their flock there. GWT also has further opportunities for volunteer shepherds within their Living Valleys area, which includes Ebbw Vale and Cwmbran, where there are currently eight volunteer shepherds helping GWT.
Pauline aged 55, whose career in nursing spanned more than 35 years, has both a personal passion for farming and practical experience having completed a smallholders course at Coleg Gwent, but says anyone who is fit and has an interest in wildlife and conservation, could easily become a volunteer shepherd, just like her.
Pauline said: “I enjoy being outdoors checking on the cows and the sheep and the locations of Gwent Wildlife Trust’s reserves at Pentwyn Farm and Wyeswood Common, are fabulous with breath-taking views, whatever the time of year.
“I think most people, if they like being outdoors would get something out of being a volunteer shepherd, whether their interest is flora or fauna.
“In my time as a volunteer shepherd, I’ve been lucky enough to see deer, foxes, a young badger, all sorts of birdlife and plenty of rabbits. I can thoroughly recommend becoming a volunteer shepherd with Gwent Wildlife Trust.”
GWT’s Pentwyn Farm and Wyeswood Common nature reserves are set within the picturesque Wye Valley area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. GWT farm Hill Radnor and Hebridean sheep and Hereford cattle on the land and the livestock plays a vital role in conservation grazing, which benefits and enhances the reserves biodiversity and wildlife.
The charity also has a flock of Badger-faced and Hebridean sheep which they move around throughout the year, to graze on different nature reserves, including areas adjoining Silent Valley in Ebbw Vale – a breath-taking Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) which boasts Britain’s highest ancient Beech woodland.
Volunteer shepherding duties include walking around, counting and checking on cows and sheep, and looking for signs of injury or illness.
Volunteers also need to check fences and gates to ensure livestock are safe and have access to water. Volunteers work to a rota system and must be aged over 18. The must also be able to drive or be willing and able to use public transport.
All training and advice is provided to the volunteer shepherds by GWT’s Senior Farm and Wildlife Development Officer Tim Green and GWT’s Senior Reserves Officer Tom Eyles.
How do I become a volunteer shepherd with Gwent Wildlife Trust?
If you would like to offer your time as a volunteer shepherd like Pauline, or would like to find out about other volunteering opportunities with Gwent Wildlife Trust call 01600 740600 or email [email protected]
Visit one of Gwent Wildlife Trust’s 30 nature reserves
All Gwent Wildlife Trust’s 30 nature reserves are free to visit and you can find out more about them here.