The Volunteers: A Memoir of Conservation, Companionship and Community (Paperback)
  • The Volunteers: A Memoir of Conservation, Companionship and Community (Paperback)
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The Volunteers: A Memoir of Conservation, Companionship and Community (Paperback)

(author)
£10.99
Paperback 304 Pages
Published: 08/08/2024
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"A gentle, warm, vulnerable book that buzzes and sings and blossoms... Donaldson shows that it is not just nature that benefits from working with the earth - the human soul heals and grows too. With lives as tangled and bright as the wildflowers in the verges, this book is a joy to read. " - Mary Colwell, author of Curlew Moon and The Gathering Place


A heart-warming true story of the woods and wildlife, conservation and community, perfect for fans of Detectorists and The Outlaws

When Carol's world suddenly unravels, leaving her single and jobless, she stumbles upon an unexpected opportunity: leading a ragtag team of countryside conservation volunteers. At first glance, the prospect of nurturing Britain's diverse wildlife in the great outdoors seems like a dream come true. However, reality paints a different picture: her office is a ramshackle porta-cabin overrun with mice and plagued by leaky ceilings, and the volunteers are far from impressed with her lack of practical skills.

Despite this rocky beginning, Carol gradually earns the respect of her eclectic group of volunteers, forging a tight-knit community that will grow to become essential to each member. This diverse group spans generations, from twenty-somethings to septuagenarians, with each of them looking to get something different out of volunteering, whether it's a sense of purpose, a fresh start in life or a tick on their community service form. They also bring their unique quirks and life experiences to the mix.

Volunteer days soon evolve into the highlight of Carol's week, as they bond over their love of nature, mental health battles, and the desire for companionship. As they work together outdoors, the team discover a simple yet powerful recipe for self-confidence, improved well-being and a newfound perspective on life's challenges. This journey not only brings solace and new joys to Carol's weeks, but eventually it helps her move on with her life, too.

The Volunteers is a heartwarming tale that celebrates the redemptive force of the woods and wildlife. It underscores the universal need for belonging and illustrates how, even in the most unexpected places, we can find a community to call our own.

Publisher: Octopus Publishing Group
ISBN: 9781837993277
Number of pages: 304
Dimensions: 198 x 129 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS

The Volunteers is the Detectorists with a touch of The Outlaws; a gentle, warm, vulnerable book that buzzes and sings and blossoms as it reveals the warts-and-all experience of leading a group of nature volunteers. I loved the personal backstories of prison time, neglectful upbringings, lost loves, confidences dashed, and all of it being healed with rain, tea and scratches from brambles - it's so very human. The frustrations of the job are soothed with a sublime background song of a nightingale in the scrub or a swim in a river. Donaldson shows that it is not just nature that benefits from working with the earth - the human soul heals and grows too. There is camaraderie and irritation, and there is the sadness of death, but there is wisdom and pure human kindness in abundance, and all of it reaches through the pages and makes me want to get out there and join in. It is also woven through with the big environmental issues we face, as well as the scourge of depression and anxiety that plagues modern society. With lives as tangled and bright as the wildflowers in the verges, this book gives us a privileged glimpse of nature volunteering, and it is a joy to read. - Mary Colwell, author of Curlew Moon and The Gathering Place

The Volunteers gripped me from the first page. Carol Donaldson writes fluently and honestly, reliving for us a period in her life of momentous change and unexpected relationships, centred on a love for working with and in nature. Threaded through a tapestry of wonderful wildlife descriptions, the individual characters Carol worked with are fondly described. Tales of her group's adventures, from installing a kissing gate to clearing vast areas of invasive Himalayan balsam, are highly entertaining. I did not expect to get hooked so fast... but then who can't relate to being part of something good, in a wildly diverse team of volunteers drawn together by a passion for wildlife? - Vicki Hird MSc FRES, author of Rebugging the Planet

Tender, warm-hearted and honest, Carol and the volunteers are all and any one of us; the "Wild Service" undertaken is a blueprint for community, belonging and care, with its roots in farm labour up to the Second World War, reimagined to stem the loss of wildlife since. It's heroic. It's hopeful, it's funny and kind. It's Detectorists, but for nature, and without your own kit. - Nicola Chester, author of On Gallows Down

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