Published: 22 October 2014
This September Berry Head National Nature Reserve received a very welcome group of volunteers. A small team of foreign cadets from the Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth came to give a hand at the start of the winter work programme. Arriving early at 8.30am, Countryside Officer for the Torbay Coast and Countryside Trust greeted this new workforce with a good strong coffee against the backdrop of the sea and Sharkham Point. The cadets were suitably impressed with their office for the day, salutations of “better than the classroom” were heard. Not so much a derogation of BRNC’s teaching areas more the scenic view about them now.
Coffee and biscuits finished, tool talk given and they were off in a blur of focused action. The task for the day was to rake all the cut hay from an area of grassland. The National Nature reserve at Berry Head is renowned for its grasslands, a noted feature within the South Hams Special Area of Conservation. With many rare, threatened and vulnerable species of flora the management of the grasslands is a high priority and raking off the hay is required to ensure the soil remains nutrient deficient, perfect for all these species to thrive. It is a laborious job taking almost three months to complete in the last quarter of the year. It is carried out in all weathers by a dedicated team of volunteers. On this day the cadets were blessed with glorious sunshine with only a brisk shower early doors, although the rain didn’t damped their spirits and the hard work was carried out with the sound of laughter sporadically sounding out across the reserve.
The cadets came from a variety of backgrounds and countries, United Arab Emirates, Libya, Senegal, Jordan and Azerbaijan for this group. The cadets join the naval college three months prior to the intake proper, to improve their English. Part of their learning during this time is the Outreach Project in which they go and work within the community to meet people outside of the college and gain an understanding of life and culture within the United Kingdom.
Noel Hughes, Countryside Officer at Berry Head explained “ The Torbay Coast and Countryside Trust gladly welcomed the opportunity to be part of the cadets learning and show off some of the most beautiful parts of our country. Also to be able work with capable groups such as this is such an advantage for the site, as they showed a real hard working team ethos and we hope this is something we may be able to help out with again in the future”