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Helen's story: 'The satisfaction of getting a job done'

I’ve been involved for 2 years and I’ve been retired for 5. Once I’d finished my initial retirement ‘to-do’ list, I started to think, ‘what would I really like to do now?’ I decided that my interests lay in gardening and the environment and so looked for something with these things at their core.  Cumbernauld Living Landscapes Nature Ninjas was a natural fit. The first session that I went to was just a 15 minute walk from my house. What I was immediately struck with was it was mostly people who were like me. There were some younger people, who were students, but the most were people my age and we gelled immediately. It was really very refreshing just to be amongst people who had similar outlooks to myself and that kept me coming back. I really enjoyed the work as well. I mean, I think scything was a bit off-putting to begin with because it’s quite physical but you could see what the intention was in terms of St Maurice’s Pond, to make it an attractive area and to encourage wildlife and so on. It was really good to be involved in something that you could see a benefit from.  

I suppose I’m quite task orientated. I enjoy the physical labour of the tasks, I enjoy getting muddy and dirty, and just trying to complete something that you can see a benefit from. It’s a way to use my time, I think it’s valuable in terms of the outcome, and also for physical fitness. I look forward to going out. I think it’s partly the company, but partly the actual tasks themselves. I suppose it’s the satisfaction of getting a job done.

Our leaders have all been wonderful in their own ways. They have been very willing to share knowledge. The thing is, a bit of knowledge is sometimes an eyeopener.  Knowledge of invasive species, for example, completely ruins a walk because you know what shouldn’t be in the environment and how much of it there is. It can be quite depressing going for a walk and seeing how much the environment is things degraded. Himalayan balsam is a beautiful flower, but it shouldn’t be there and there’s so much of it. To be honest, I’d never noticed these things before and once your attention is drawn to something you see it everywhere. It’s amazing.

In terms of tasks, we’ve done things like pulling scrub from bogs. I have to say sometimes we feel as if we’re clapping against thunder because it must be a drop in the bucket, but you feel as if you’re doing something positive for the environment. We’ve cut down Sitka spruce from different wildlife areas, we’ve planted trees, scythed meadows, we’ve planted wildlife plugs, we’ve sown seeds, we’ve done quite a lot of path clearing as well, and we’ve done a lot of litter picking. I always feel better about doing it because I hate to see it in the environment, but it always feels like such a pity that volunteers are picking litter everywhere, you know, where should we stop and the council really shoulder the responsibility? The litter-picking part is actually quite soul destroying. 

I really like being out on the bogs, it can be really really interesting. You find frogs, you see wildlife, you can see birds of prey, that kind of thing. It’s just a nice environment, it’s so different. But you don’t want to be on a bog when it’s really hot because there’s just no shade. You feel like you’re being grilled from above by the sun. You can really get a better understanding of ecosystems, how fragile they are, and how strongly they can come back again if you give them a chance. I love woodland as well. I love trees.

I’ve got a concern for the future because the project is finishing. Some of these jobs are annual jobs and if you don’t continue, then you lose what you’ve done. We’re going to have to think of our constitution and how do we apply for funding, and there’s a whole load of things policy-wise that we’d have to have, and insurances, and lots and lots and lots of things to consider. So…yeah…I’ve got concerns for the future.  We’ve got a lot of very willing volunteers, and I think all of them enjoy what they’re doing, so we’ve got a really good basis to begin that journey from. 


This is part of the project 'Stories of nature connections' (

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Printed from /research/projects/helens-story-satisfaction-getting-job-done on 01/12/23 09:56:56 AM

The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.