STEYNING Olympic gold medallist Sally Gunnell visited Woods Mill nature reserve on Monday to support a training initiative.
An ambassador for The Prince’s Countryside Fund, she went along to the Sussex Wildlife Trust’s headquarters to meet trainee Sam Buckland.
Sally said: “It is a great pleasure to meet beneficiaries of the fund and find out first-hand about the remarkable work that is going on to preserve our beautiful landscape and ensure future generations are equipped with the skills to continue this.
“Projects such as this one, funded by The Prince’s Countryside Fund, enable young people to get a much-needed foot on the employment ladder, and acquire the skills and qualifications crucial to pursue rural based careers, a field in which there are limited training opportunities available.”
Sam, 25, started working with the trust last spring on a new one-year volunteer training scheme, which is open to young people living in, or close to Sussex.
The scheme teaches valuable skills and offers practical conservation experience to improve employment prospects in the countryside.
Sam, who lives in Lindfield, is working towards a level-two diploma in environmental conservation, while receiving on-the-job training in coppicing, scrub cutting, animal husbandry, livestock handling, off-road driving and first aid.
He said: “It can be hard for young people to get into conservation work but this scheme’s enabled me to work alongside people who are incredibly knowledgeable – they have a whole lifetime’s experience – and I’m now able to take these skills and move forward with my own career.”
The placement is part of a three-year funding programme and Sussex Wildlife Trust is now looking for a new trainee to start the second year-long placement in April 2014.
For further details please contact Mark Monk-Terry on 01273 492630.