New rangers at Ham Hill Country Park

FUNDING from the Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage has helped South Somerset District Council appoint three rangers who will help keep Ham Hill Country Park and its heritage protected and in tip-top shape for wildlife to thrive and visitors to enjoy.

The funding is a rescue package to safeguard cultural and heritage organisations across England from the economic impact of Covid-19, which has had a massive impact on the countryside as well as humans. Work at Ham Hill Country Park and the ability of  staff and volunteers to manage the site has been greatly reduced, with two rangers redeployed to Covid-19 related work to support vulnerable residents.

Volunteers have been restricted in their numbers and activities, leaving the park with no volunteers on site for approximately five months of 2020, due to lockdowns and other restrictions. This, coupled with the past 12 months seeing the highest visitor numbers ever recorded at Ham Hill, has left the small ranger team depleted, with important work still needing to be done.

The new rangers, Ben, Edd, and Izzy, are working alongside the Head Ranger Paul McNeill, to help make sure that the most vulnerable habitats, wildlife and the Iron Age hillfort itself are protected, and to repair damage to the path network.

Edd has been appointed as Engagement Ranger and will be developing ways to work more closely with local communities, stakeholders and visitors. He will also work alongside the countryside team to help secure a National Lottery Heritage Fund grant for Ham Hill in 2022.

Izzy, who has been working as a warden in East Devon and Dorset, and Ben will help to manage all on-site practical work, volunteer parties, day to day site management, and carry out wildlife surveys across the park. Ben, who has experience of managing country parks from his previous role with the National Trust, grew up in Wiltshire surrounded by chalk grassland and iron age hill forts.

Pictured, from left: Ben Edd and Izzy. Photograph by Paul McNeil.