Enhancing the Welsh countryside

498. Jim Cowie (Wales)

A conservationist led the development of the Coed y Bont Community Woodland project and inspired over 50 volunteers.

Jim Cowie, from Pontrhydfendigaid, secured £92,000 in grant funding to enable the development of the Coed y Bont Community Woodland. To date, he has encouraged and inspired more than 50 volunteers to contribute over 3000 hours of their time to enhance and improve the 25 hectare site.

Jim worked closely with Natural Resources Wales staff, to organise the construction of easy access paths, suitable for wheelchair and pushchair users, ensuring the woodland is accessible to the whole community. Jim led the introduction of a mix of facilities: there is a picnic area for visitors to enjoy, and new ponds for the benefit of the aquatic wildlife of the woodland. As project manager, Jim coordinates volunteers to get involved in a number of different activities across the woodland.

Volunteers can support wildlife conservation, facilitate environmental education, improve access, organise publicity, or undertake physical jobs such as clearing glades to create more diverse habitats, and improve the drainage of the footpaths. Jim has engaged the children in the village primary school and local youth club to help build and install bird and dormouse boxes. An important feature of the project is the monthly programme of public events, open to all, where experts talk about the woodland, covering topics from birds to fungi.

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

“Jim has inspired people in his local area to give their time to create and preserve Coed y Bont Community Woodland. Led by his efforts, the woodland has become an accessible visitor attraction, an educational resource and a special place for local residents to enjoy for generations to come. I am delighted to recognise Jim’s service by making him the UK’s 498th Point of Light.”

Jim Cowie said:

“This award means a great deal and I am proud and pleased to receive it. I have thoroughly enjoyed being involved in this woodland project, I never thought that I was ‘volunteering’ but rather just spending my time doing something that I wanted to do. Although I am the recipient of this award, it is really a recognition of the dedication of a large number of volunteers who have worked very hard to develop the woodland for the benefit of their own community, to improve their environment and to make it a better place in which to live. Without their enthusiasm and support this project would not have been possible.”

Mark Williams MP said:

“Jim Cowie has led the Coed y Bont community in Pontrhydfendigaid, with flair, dedication and enthusiasm, to create an excellent community facility for locals and visitors alike. This programme has been a community-inspired one and Jim has been at the forefront of it since its inception. I am delighted he will have this recognition and many communities will benefit from people like Jim. I know Jim will regard this recognition as a testament to the efforts of many people in Pontrhydfendigaid. Well done all involved.”

Elin Jones AM said:

“Over the years, I’ve seen the Coed y Bont community woodland develop into a project which has engaged the whole community and achieved a huge amount in terms of protecting and enhancing the landscape and environment. It has also inspired other projects, and this is a great testament to the patient dedication of Jim Cowie and his team.”

The daily Points of Light award recognises outstanding individual volunteers - people who are making a change in their community.

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