Volunteer Profile: Michael Walker
Michael Walker started volunteering with Earth Trust as a guide for Project Timescape nearly 15 years ago and now enjoys helping at a variety of events.
Almost 15 years ago, whilst Michael was still working full time, he read about Earth Trust’s Project Timescape in the local paper. It mentioned the post of Guide and he decided to get involved by giving his time at weekends. Although he had no prior knowledge of Earth Trust, he was keen to learn and quickly became familiar with the exhibit and the history of the Clumps. Michael has been a familiar face ever since, going on to volunteer at various events including the Lambing Festival, where he helps with tasks such as setting up for the event, selling tickets at the gate and running family craft activities. More recently Michael has helped at the half term children’s activities held at our community reserves.
Michael was born in the army barracks in Didcot and has lived in Didcot all his life. He met his wife Amy when they were young teenagers and the couple married when he was 21 and Amy 19; they have two children and five grandchildren. Michael is a Design Engineer by profession and worked in the corporate area until he took early retirement. Michael and Amy decided to travel the world and had a list of countries they wanted to visit; they started with New Zealand and then the Canadian Rockies where they returned for their 50th wedding anniversary. They also travelled to Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia and Europe.
Amy also spent time volunteering with us. She was one of the first volunteers to be trained in Food Hygiene in order to help run Poem Tree café at events like the Lambing Festival. She also carried out butterfly surveys on the Earth Trust Farm. After 52 years of marriage, Amy sadly died in 2017.
Michael has continued with his volunteer work and it’s not just Earth Trust where he spends his time. After starting out doing house to house collections for the RNLI he went on to become a Treasurer; an impressive 50 years later he was awarded the Gold Badge for Volunteering and was invited to London where it was presented by Princess Alexandra. A couple of years later Michael returned to London to have a bar added to his Gold Badge for further volunteering services by the Duke of Kent.
Michael also volunteers for All Saints Church in Didcot and was asked some years ago to get involved in setting up a school. Michael became Chair of Governors and his initial task was to find a head teacher. Together they went on to appoint all other school staff, which was a huge learning curve. Michael would visit the school after finished work on a Friday afternoon and walk around talking to staff. He still knows some of the staff and was recently told, much to his embarrassment, that he was the best Chair of Governors they had ever had!
Michael says the best thing about volunteering is the people you meet:
“At the Earth Trust you couldn’t meet a lovelier group of people. The staff and volunteers feel like family. I have volunteered for many years and it has taught me so many different things. Volunteering does take time but if you are willing to learn and willing to interact, what you get in return is immeasurable. New volunteers may think they are giving their time, but you actually receive far more back. It’s amazing really, the things you learn if you are willing to give it a go. I hope that people reading this will be inspired to volunteer, no one should be worried.”