Air Cadets from 126 (City of Derby) Squadron have spent a weekend working for the National Trust at Hardwick Hall in Derbyshire. The cadets were working with the National Trust as part of their Duke of Edinburgh Award.
126 Squadron has been assisting the National Trust team at Hardwick for the last seven years. Every February, they give up their free time to support forest management activities on the Hardwick Estate. The volunteer work that the Cadets complete counts towards the Service Section of their Duke of Edinburgh Award.
This year, the Cadets were responsible for clearing Rhododendron bushes. The Rhododendrons that grow wild in the woodlands around the estate need to be cut down regularly to let light into the woodland. The additional light created by the removal of the bushes, encourages wild bluebells and garlic to grow on the woodland floor.
The twenty Cadets worked extremely hard to clear the woodland. They split into teams to chop down the bushes then transfer the debris to a central pile. In the cold, wintry afternoon, the Cadets were able to light a fire to burn the Rhododendron debris. The National Trust Wardens were on hand to show the Cadets how to light and manage a perfect woodland fire. They also showed the Cadets an area nearby inhabited by Badgers. The Wardens were highly impressed with the teamwork and motivation of the Cadets and rate them as one of their best volunteer groups.
All Cadets enjoyed their weekend at Hardwick. It is an opportunity for inner city Cadets to help with conservation in the local area and learn about the plants and animals that will benefit from the work they are doing.
Flying Officer Jackie Barker, Duke of Edinburgh Officer at 126 Squadron said, “The Cadets did a really good job this weekend. Even though the conditions were wet and muddy, they put in maximum effort. The Cadets learnt a lot about the woodland from the Wardens that were with us and the project has inspired some of them to get more involved in conservation work in the future”.