A fond farewell to Cathy
Cathy Evans has always had a keen interest in the countryside and has been a regular volunteer for the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust. She leads guided walks for the Walking for Health Initiative and is a keen bird watcher. She began teaching children about the wonders of the natural environment when working as a visitor guide on the Shugborough Estate Park Farm. It was these experiences that made her the obvious choice to be appointed as a Regional Manager at The Country Trust in 2006. At the time, the charity employed just 10 staff scattered around England, who organised excursions for children to discover the working countryside in all its guises. One of the founding members, Peter Marsden, was an inspirational mentor for Cathy as she settled into her role. She found that generous landowners in Staffordshire, Shropshire, Cheshire and Worcestershire readily agreed to host school trips, so she soon had a full diary of events, building up to an impressive 80 trips annually for around 2,000 children from schools in Birmingham, Cannock, Kidderminster, Stoke on Trent, Telford, Wolverhampton, Walsall and similar urban areas.
“As a child growing up in Norfolk I was fascinated by nature and have always had a deep love of the countryside. I get a real buzz from opening children's eyes and hearts to the joys of the natural world” says Cathy “Many children The Country Trust work with come from areas of high deprivation and their family circumstances mean they rarely get the opportunity to visit the countryside or learn how food is produced. I know from my own experiences, as well as the Country Trust’s evaluation reports and studies carried out by other organisations, how spending time outdoors, eating well and meeting new people can make a huge difference to improving a child’s confidence, well-being, mental health and diet.”
Over the years Cathy has visited some wonderful farms and estates, sharing happy experiences with the children, teachers and hosts she works with. She has many fond memories of both the places she’s been to and people she has met. One of her favourite venues has been Bickley House Farm in Worcestershire. Here children have enjoyed exciting experiences, including the busy lambing period in spring and apple-themed activities in the autumn, picking then pressing apples into delicious juice and making tasty apple flap jacks. The ancient Whitmore Estate near Newcastle Under Lyme is another beautiful place that has welcomed groups of children through its gates to have fun in the great outdoors while discovering more about farming, food, nature and history. It is not surprising with so many amazing excursions she’s organised over the years, that Cathy still remembers responses like the one from a little boy who declared “this is better than Alton Towers!”.
Probably Cathy’s greatest claim to fame while working for The Country Trust was when the charity was featured in an episode of BBC Radio 4’s The Archers. The BBC recorded an episode at Broadheath Farm, near Ranton, representing the farm of David and Ruth Archer, where some children from Wolverhampton enjoyed a Country Trust visit.
Although Cathy has loved her role at The Country Trust she feels it’s now time to wash down her wellies and spend more time focusing on her family, friends and interests. We wish her all the very best for the future.
Cathy formally retired in July but her work will carry on, led by Farm Discovery Coordinators, Corinne Caddy and Julie Warburton… with some help from Cathy from time to time in a volunteering capacity!