Exiled conservation group returns after eight years

The Conservation Volunteers back in Hastings. 4/4/13
The Conservation Volunteers back in Hastings. 4/4/13

AN INSPIRATIONAL conservation group that was forced to move its offices out of Hastings eight years ago has just reopened new premises in the town.

The Conservation Volunteers (CV) were exiled to Ninfield in 2005 after their office at the Seeboard electricity depot was bought out to make way for the Hastings College engineering campus in Parker Road.

The Hastings branch of the charity has returned to an office above a garage at the Blacklands Business Centre in Fearon Road.

It first opened a branch under its original name of the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers in the early 1980s.

In 1990 it moved to the Ore Centre in Ore village. Then seven years later it transferred to the Seeboard depot.

The organisation’s volunteers spend time on various conservation projects across the local community such as Hastings Country Park and Brede High Woods.

They build fences, pathways and coppice trees to help maintain the woodlands.

The Hastings office is led by Tim Hills who is an inspirational figure in his own right.

Tim, 37, who is from Westfield, was working as a team leader in 2000 when he had a terrible accident.

He was lifting wood aged just 24 while felling trees when he twisted his back and slipped two of the discs in his spine.

It took a year before he was back on his feet but he would never be the same again.

He now needs a walking stick to get about and uses a motability scooter to travel long distances.

But with a degree in conservation management, there was no way Tim would be giving up on his dream job.

“It was a really hard time for me,” he said. “But you have to grab the odd-shaped balls that life throws at you.

“The charity was really good and they kept a job for me. I have been working for CV since 2000 and its all I ever wanted to do.

“As far as moving back to Hastings is concerned its great to be back among people and a busy town again. Ninfield was very nice but there weren’t many people about to pull on.

“Volunteer numbers have dropped in recent years and now we are back here I’m sure the good people of Hastings will help boost our numbers again.”

The group meets on Wednesday and takes volunteers to site in a mini-bus. It appeals to people of all different backgrounds and abilities. There are currently volunteers who suffer from Aspergers syndrome and others who are unemployed and like to learn new skills.

Tim added: “The volunteering side is fantastic because not only are we carrying out much-needed work in the community we are also giving people a chance to learn vital skills and make new friends.

“I would urge anyone with an interest to roll their sleeves up and give us a go.” If you would like to volunteer call Tim on 07740 899692.