18:06 Monday 11 February 2013

Group to mark 20 years of its community work

Written byRICH GUTTRIDGE

Branston Water Park - £7000 WildflowerEmbankment.Rose Heaven - Powergen, LawrenceOates - Project Co-Ordinator Branston Water Park - £7000 WildflowerEmbankment.Rose Heaven - Powergen, LawrenceOates - Project Co-Ordinator

A GROUP of volunteers are celebrating 20 years of making a difference in their community.

The Burton Conservation Volunteers carry out work shaping the environment in and around Burton, and if you haven’t heard of the group before it is likely you have seen the results of some of its work.

The group, whose number fluctuates but is made up of around 35 volunteers, do work for councils and also independently for members of the public.

Most weekends the group can be found trimming hedges or tending to footpaths as well as handling bigger jobs from time to time.

Veteran of the group Lawrence Oates, who has been involved since its formation in 1993, said: “At the moment, as it’s winter, we do things such as hedge trimming and tree planting, then at the end of March we will move on to jobs like mending footpaths and bridges.

“We recently took on the 13-metre bridge at Yoxall Lodge which was quite a big project.

“We do work for East Staffordshire Borough Council as well as independently for people.

“We’re not taking other people’s jobs. They’re more like wish list jobs that otherwise wouldn’t get done. We can handle them a bit more sensitively rather than a JCB digger going in there. They have to enhance the environment though – that’s all important.”

To mark the group’s achievement, a special event is to be held at the Voluntary Services Centre, in Union Street, Burton, on Friday, to be attended by the Mayor of East Staffordshire as well as Burton’s MP Andrew Griffiths.

Mr Oates, who lives in Anglesey, admits that two decades on, he never expected the group to be such a success.

He added: “I’ve had good feedback over the years and we’ve helped a lot of people, both inside and outside the group.

“We’ve had people working with us who have had learning difficulties and people with alcohol and drug problems who we have helped to get through that.

“I didn’t expect it to get this far. It’s a great achievement and I’m really pleased.”

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