Meet the volunteers making a difference on Portsdown Hill

16 August 2017

Meet another award winning volunteering team, the Portsdown Hill Conservation Volunteers, who were double winners at the Portsmouth Inspiring Volunteer Awards 2017, winning both the team award in the Environment and Conservation category and overall Volunteering Team of the Year 2017.

In case you don’t know, Portsdown Hill is a chalk ridge that overlooks Portsmouth and provides a stunning viewpoint over the city, the harbours and over to the Isle of Wight.

Volunteers have been working very hard for the last 20 years on Portsdown Hill, doing all sorts of things from grassland management to estate management, from scrub control to hedge management, tractor driving, and wildlife monitoring  as well as litter clearing…….. in fact lots and lots of litter clearing!

When I said they work hard, did I say they work all year around, in all weathers, in large groups, in small groups and sometimes individually. The award they won is certainly very well deserved by this well-rounded, diverse and harmonious group.

Much of Portsdown’s extensive chalk grassland is a Site of Special Scientific Interest too. The grassland is home to a fantastic displays of colourful wildflowers that change through the spring, summer and autumn. It is an excellent place to spot bees, butterflies and hundreds of other pollinating insects. This flower-rich grassland is now a rare habitat as most has been lost from the countryside. The volunteers are instrumental in achieving this.

Richard Jones , Portsdown Hill Countryside Officer explains more about the volunteers, “There is no well-defined group of volunteers, but the name has long been used for all the people who volunteer in some way or other. Most of them come to the workdays on a Wednesday or a Sunday. Some help out at other times with litter-picking, counting butterflies, fixing machinery and a myriad of other tasks. A few of them are jovially referred to as “deep-cover operatives” who prefer to do their own thing. It’s not all hard work though, social events include a Christmas party and a summer coach trip to somewhere of natural interest.  We all share the common idea of getting out and doing something practical in their local environment. The volunteers may or may not belong to the Friends, and vice versa”.

I live 10 minutes walking distance from Portsdown Hill and my children love going there, enjoying the wildlife, playing football and hide and seek with their friends. As a Portsmouth resident, I feel very lucky that we have a great natural beauty that is looked after very well! Thank you Portsdown Hill Volunteers on behalf of everyone who lives in Portsmouth!

Click here if you would are interested in becoming a conservation volunteer on Portsdown Hill or,  to find out more about l the Friends of Portsdown Hill visit their website

Our writers children playing on Portsdown Hill

Representatives of the Portsdiown Hill Conservation Volunteers collecting their Volunteering Team of the Year 2017 with (left) Sandy O’Niell, Chair of Portsmouth Together and (2nd Right) the Deputy Lord Mayor of Portsmouth