April 13, 2024

Volunteer pedalling to raise funds for Cumbria Wildlife Trust

Image source, BBC/Nick Brownlee

Image caption,

Rhiannon Ridgewell says she is hoping to hit her distance target before the end of June

  • Author, John Bowness
  • Role, BBC News, North East and Cumbria

A woman is cycling thousands of miles to raise money for a charity, marking her own half century of volunteering in conservation.

Rhiannon Ridgewell said she was hoping to cover 3,500km (2,175 miles) in a year, as there are approximately 3,500 plant species in the UK.

She also wants to raise £3,500 for Cumbria Wildlife Trust (CWT), for whom she volunteers.

Ms Ridgewell said she began a lifetime of involvement with conservation aged 16, when she joined the then British Trust for Conservation Volunteers.

She said the highlight of her week was a session at CWT’s wildflower nursery at Gosling Sike, at Houghton, near Carlisle, where she had been volunteering for three years.

She has previously volunteered at numerous locations, including as a ranger in the Scottish Highlands, and at Bitts Park and Tullie museum in Carlisle.

‘Most important thing’

She said she was passionate about nature because “it’s the most important thing in the world”.

Ms Ridgewell, who began her challenge in January, hopes to increase her cycling and fundraising beyond her initial plans.

She said by early March she had already covered 1,000km (621 miles), and if she reached her target after six months, she would increase it to a new aim for the year of 3,500 miles (5,633km).

Ms Ridgewell said the physical part of volunteering was attractive because she felt better afterwards.

And as well as the social aspect of making new friends, she said: “You feel you’re doing something that makes a real difference.”

More stories from BBC North East and Cumbria

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