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Thursday, 11 February 2016

Frances earns national praise for her love of the Dales landscape

Dedicated to Dales beauty:
Frances Bland.
A Dales volunteer has received national recognition for her dedication to preserving the beauty of her local area,

Over the past 11 years, former finance officer Frances Bland has walked hundreds of miles in all weathers and spent massive amounts of her own time helping to look after the beautiful Yorkshire Dales national park.

Her work has enabled her to maintain her love of the unique landscape and to follow her interest in historic building and monuments, regularly finding and adding unrecorded historic features to the national park authority’s historic environment record.

This has earned her national recognition, winning the individual category in the National Parks UK 2015 Volunteer Awards, which each year thank the thousands of volunteer hours put into the country’s 15 national parks.

She said: “When I retired I wanted to have a voluntary job doing something I liked somewhere I loved – and now I’m doing it.”

Frances, who lives with her husband Bob near Blackburn, has turned her hand to just about every job on offer to the Dales Volunteers.

She single-handedly carried out a footpath survey across the whole of the national park that involved walking 172 miles in five months, and she got to grips with GPS satellite tracking equipment to set up the first of many geocache trails that now provide hours of fun for families and individuals.

“I work a lot with my husband – he comes out and helps me so it’s an interest for both of us,” she said.

“We have spent a lot of time in the Dales even before I started volunteering – we love the place.”

Kate Hilditch, the national park authority’s volunteers coordinator said: “Frances’s commitment to all her activities is exceptional and her tireless volunteering has delivered huge benefits to the national park.

“She is an absolute pleasure to work with and an inspiration to all of us – we’re delighted that her efforts have been recognised with this award.

“We have a fantastic group of Dales Volunteers and it’s no exaggeration to say that we couldn’t do the work we do without their help and enthusiasm – they really are the best.”

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