Hello from the new Tame Valley staff…

This year has seen the launch of the Tame Valley Wetlands Landscape Partnership Scheme (TVWLPS), a landscape-scale scheme centred around the River Tame. The four year scheme will see reedbed creation, re-profiling of the river banks, the restoration of built and natural heritage sites and much more in the Tame Valley Wetlands area. Early in 2014 the scheme was awarded £1.7 million by the Heritage Lottery Fund, and since then it’s been full steam ahead to find the perfect team to make this fantastic project happen. 

Tim Haselden, the Scheme Manager of the TVWLPS has been an employee of Warwickshire Wildlife Trust for several years, but now it’s time to introduce you to the new staff on the block. The scheme is a partnership between several organisations, the full list of which can be viewed here

From left to right: Simon Lowe, Sarah Devenport, Dimuthu Meehitiya, Tracey Doherty, Tim Haselden, and Rita Gries - copyright Dimuthu Meehitiya
From left to right: Simon Lowe, Sarah Devenport, Dimuthu Meehitiya, Tracey Doherty, Tim Haselden, and Rita Gries – copyright Dimuthu Meehitiya

Rita Gries – Community and Events Officer

Hi, I’m Rita and I’m the new TVWLPS Community and Events Officer, employed by the RSPB. My role is to reconnect people living in the Tame Valley with their cultural, built and natural heritage. I will be making sure that the local community is involved in the scheme and continues its legacy when it comes to an end. I will be organising a range of fun and inspiring events, leading regular work parties and supporting community groups throughout the valley.

Before I started this role, I had already been working for the RSPB for three years in Scotland. I have an interest in conservation projects involving communities and this is what attracted me to this job. I love the fact that the scheme will not only make a difference to the natural heritage of the valley, but also to its cultural and built heritage and the local communities’ quality of life.

Tracey Doherty – Wetland Landscape Officer

Hi, I’m Tracey Doherty and I’m the new Wetland Landscape Officer for the TVWLPS, employed by Warwickshire Wildlife Trust. I will be co-ordinating a number of exciting projects to restore the natural environment and heritage sites within the Tame Valley.

I’ve not always worked in conservation. For 20 years I worked in accounting but longed for a career change to work in conservation. I realised I needed a degree and in 2008 made a brave decision to leave my job to pursue a degree in wildlife conservation and environmental science management at Wolverhampton University. During Uni, I volunteered with Staffordshire Wildlife Trust’s Wild about Tamworth Project, volunteered as a biodiversity surveyor at RSPB Middleton Lakes and volunteered with Canal and River Trust. Volunteering was instrumental in me securing my first paid contract in 2011 with the Environment Agency. I worked as a River Surveyor identifying problems for fish in the Midlands area and later as a Biodiversity Officer covering the Warwickshire County. I’ve worked with Warwickshire Wildlife Trust as part of the development phase of the scheme. The Wetland Landscape Officer post was my ‘X factor’ role. When I left Uni, I wanted to work at landscape levels, creating habitats that were connected and resilient for wildlife. To be able to bring my dream to reality, in the area where I live, working with all the partners that I volunteered for, is just perfect. I can’t wait to get cracking!

Simon Lowe – Training and Education Officer

Hi my name is Simon Lowe and I am the new Training and Education Officer for the TVWLPS. I am employed through Warwickshire Wildlife Trust and I am really looking forward to working alongside the members of this new team in developing and delivering new ideas within the Tame Valley area. For the last four years, I have been working for The Conservation Volunteers as a Training Officer within the National Forest delivering and assessing practical Environmental Conservation Diplomas to students of all ages and backgrounds. My role within the scheme will be to deliver formal and informal training in the form of accredited courses for regular students and taster days for community groups and volunteers.  I am also looking to work closely with local schools and colleges to develop educational packs and resources which can be used to lay the foundation for an interest in science and the local environment. This opportunity to develop and mould a project was one of the key reasons that I was delighted to accept the post, I can see many new challenges ahead and I am looking forward to getting out and about in to the scheme area, meeting new people and working on ways in which these challenges can best be conquered.

Sarah Devenport – Finance and Administration Officer

Hi, my name is Sarah Devenport and I’m the Finance & Admin Officer for the TVWLPS and the Skills for the Future Project at Warwickshire Wildlife Trust. My role is all to do with budgeting and administration.

I’m originally from Yorkshire but I grew up in Lancashire and now have escaped to Warwickshire where the weather is much better. It rains lots up in the North!

For the last 3 years I have worked in a freelance secretarial company but my heart truly lies in working for an environmental charity. After I graduated I worked for the Countryside Education Trust, RSPB and Groundwork as a volunteer in different roles for several years before my previous job. When this job was advertised it was my ideal job – admin and finance within an environmental charity. Now, I can’t wait to get stuck into all of the Tame Valley Wetlands’ projects and seeing the positive outcomes from our hard work and dedication, and also watching new recruits develop through the Skills for the Future Project.

Dimuthu Meehitiya – Youth Engagement Officer

I have recently been employed by Staffordshire Wildlife Trust for the role of Youth Engagement Officer for the TVWLPS.

As a Youth Officer, my role requires me to involve young people (aged 16-25), in the exciting TVWLPS. Traditionally, “youth” are underrepresented in local conservation projects. From my experience this is not due to a dislike or empathy toward their local environment, but mainly because of barriers to entry, such as education and job commitments, to misconceptions of wildlife conservation.

This unique project to deliver the TVWLPS, is what attracted me to this post. My background is mainly in urban wildlife conservation, and the natural sciences. For the past 7 years i have been working in London’s most urban woodland, Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park. This 33 acre woodland, in East London, boasts being the most biodiverse park in Central London. I was the Education Officer for the park, working with over 8000 school children and 3000 volunteers a year.

Even though London and the Tame Valley would initially come as very different areas, the young people face many of the same social difficulties. Getting involved in conservation is definitely a very positive direction that young people can go in. It gives them skills that they cannot learn at school/higher education, increases their job prospects, and involves them in their local community in a way they would have not usually considered.

Being new to the West Midlands, I look forward to working with the local communities of the Tame Valley and I hope to bring positive experiences of wildlife conservation to their youth.

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