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Stackyard News Sep 2011

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Graduate Gets a Golden Opportunity

Graduate Alistair Lockett has struck gold with his first job! Part of his work as conservation trainee with the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Partnership is to ensure the rare golden globeflower grows successfully in the AONB’s spectacular upland hay meadows.

Alistair Lockett monitoring the progress of some wildflower plug plants grown by North Pennines AONB Partnership volunteers
© NPAP/Rebecca Barrett

Alistair Lockett monitoring the progress of some wildflower plug plants grown by North Pennines AONB Partnership volunteers

As part of the Partnership’s Hay Time project, rare wildflowers are being given a helping hand to repopulate the North Pennine meadows, and Alistair took to the fields recently to monitor the success of young globeflower plants that had been grown and planted out by project volunteers.

After graduating from Liverpool John Moores University in 2009 as a zoologist, Alistair volunteered with several organisations including the RSPB, Lancashire Wildlife Trust and the Bat Conservation Trust. This experience and his enthusiasm and motivation to learn led to 24-year-old Alistair accepting the North Pennines AONB Partnership’s offer of a 12 month traineeship.

Alistair said: “This is an absolutely fantastic opportunity to learn from experts in a range of fields in one of the most beautiful places in England. I feel very lucky and am determined to make the most of my time with the AONB Partnership.”

Lesley Silvera, the Project Development Officer overseeing the placement said: “Alistair is the latest recruit on our North Pennines AONB Partnership’s Heritage Landscape Skills scheme and will be one of eight trainees - six in dry stone walling and two in conservation and land management - to benefit from the North Pennines scheme over a four year period.”

Alistair’s bursary payments and equipment is being funded by Heritage Lottery Fund’s Skills for the Future programme. The funding comes with a commitment from the AONB Partnership to deliver a detailed and comprehensive training plan to give maximum learning and training benefits to the successful candidates.

Lesley said: “Alistair is working alongside scientists on the staff team who are working with land owners and managers to ensure healthy biodiversity and ecosystems.”

Alistair, from Stockport in Cheshire, has already been getting his hands dirty working on upland hay meadows with Hay Time Project Officer Dr Ruth Starr-Keddle and surveying local water courses searching for the elusive water vole with Conservation Officer Andy Lees. In between this he has also helped out on the Bollihope Common dig unearthing an early 18th century house, monitored the effects of blocking peatland ‘grips’ or ditches in the North Pennines and to top it all (literally) helped volunteers measure peat depth at 1000ft above sea level!

This training and experience will hopefully help Alistair continue his career in conservation.

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