Some years ago, my wife and I moved into our first house together. This was in Sholing in Southampton and we soon set about exploring the local area. Quite by chance, we came across a beautiful open area which we later learned was called Sholing Valleys.
We had a march across the wide, flower dotted greenery and then returned home, wondering what this was. Later research revealed that this was part of an area known locally as Sholing Valleys and this included Miller's Pond, one of the larger bodies of water on that side of Southampton.
There has, for many years, been a well established group looking after the area, which includes a wood, a flower meadow and the pond. They operate from the Sholing Valleys Study Centre, a building which includes resources for people (including children) to learn more about the wildlife and ecosystem of the area. I first went along to one of their conservation days in early 2010 and was immediately made to feel very welcome. Candice, one of the keenest members of the volunteer group, told me more about what they do and their aims.
|Candice, super volunteer, at Miller's Pond|
Part of their activities includes regular conservation days at the centre. These are normally on the last Sunday of each month (they have August off as a holiday) and are great fun. The volunteers are friendly and welcoming and it is a like a gathering of good friends when they meet. The conservation work includes coppicing, litter picking (which is my favourite), planting and pruning. Junior volunteers can also take part in nature surveys where they can learn more about the wildlife in the area.
|Sholing Valleys Study Centre|
In 2011, Sholing Valleys Study Centre became a Local Nature Reserve. This was well deserved recognition for the value of the area and the valuable work the volunteers put in. This shows the great difference that volunteers can make and the changes this can bring about. Green Hampshire were delighted to be present at the celebrations to mark the award.
|Max Thompson from Green Hampshire at Sholing Valleys|
I've always enjoyed my time at Sholing Valleys. Volunteering is a good thing to do in itself but it is also good for you. It makes me feel happy and contented to take part and my hope is that volunteering can do this for you as well.
We have two vlogs about volunteering with Sholing Valleys - do have a look :
This vlog includes a chat with Colin Oliphant, the current chairman, who, amongst other things, discusses the origins of the group.
Candice also explains more about their conservation work in these two videos:
To find out more about Sholing Valleys, have a look at their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Sholing-Valleys-Study-Centre-377712315667036/.