ANS Volunteering Days: Tameside Rangers

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As an ex-member of the ANS CSR team, I was always acutely aware of how much money we donate as a business to charitable causes. But having worked closely with the Manchester Youth Zone and the Royal Manchester Children’s hospital, I learnt there was something even more valuable than donating money, and that was donating time.

So when ANS announced they were allowing employees to swap 5 working days a year for 5 days volunteering with local groups and charities, I reached out to Tameside Rangers to sign up for some of their community volunteering days.

As a resident of Tameside, and a lover of the great outdoors, I spend a lot of my time walking around local parks and nature reserves, so to give something back to the area I’ve come to love was something I was really passionate about.

Tameside Rangers are responsible for managing the countryside of Tameside – from tree-planting and woodland management, to litter picking, footpath rebuilding and habitat protection.

Check out what I got up to with the Rangers…

October – Litter-picking, tidying and clearing beds at Hyde Park, Hyde

I met with the Rangers and other volunteers from local businesses to get stuck in with a variety of tasks at Hyde park. I volunteered myself to start off by doing some litter picking and words can’t quite explain how much I enjoyed it (I’m not kidding) there’s something very satisfying about collecting rubbish and it’s fair to say I was willing to venture further and deeper into bushes than anyone else to collect a piece of plastic. I found all sorts from kid’s toys, to a mobile phone from about 1999, sweet wrappers from the 80s and some questionable items of clothing.

We then broke for lunch which was the point at which I realised everyone had brought a three-course packed lunch, flask, home-made cakes and camping chairs. I was woefully unprepared and hadn’t brought anything to eat. All the Rangers then clubbed together to give me scraps of their lunch. I’ll be forever grateful. I also didn’t make that mistake again.

After lunch I helped to clear some flower beds as the local nursery wanted to use the beds to grow some herbs.

November – planting bulbs at Stamford Park, Stalybridge

Let me start by saying I’ve never planted anything in my life before, so where better to start than single-handily planting 500 Narcissus pseudonarcissus (aka daffodils) in horizonal rain.

It was certainly a day to remember but I’ve since been back to the park and the daffodils are starting to peep through the soil so at least they survived the winter. I’m planning to visit again in another few weeks to see the fruits of my labour! It’s fair to say I’ll be giving myself a hefty pat on the back after that ordeal!

December – Hedge clearing at Werneth Low Country Park, Hyde

If you’ve ever visited Werneth Low, you’ll know there are some spectacular views of Manchester from the top and on this particular day we were blessed with sunshine.

On this occasion I wasn’t trusted with a heavy duty electric hedge trimmer so I was left to trim a rather mammoth hedge with just a manual shears and to say it was exhausting was an understatement. I definitely have a new-found respect for the Rangers!

I only managed to squeeze in three volunteering days towards the end of last year, but I’ll definitely be using all five this year (in summer!!). But the experience I’ve had so far has been amazing. Not only have I learnt new skills, but I’ve gained a new-found appreciation for the countryside. I’ve been out walking on countless occasions taking in the beauty and nature of the landscape without sparing a single thought for the army of people who actually dedicate their time to maintaining the landscape. I take my hat off to all the Rangers, not only in Tameside, but across the UK!

To find out more about Tameside Rangers and how you can get involved volunteering, click here.