Becky Jones, speaking to people in Bath at the start of the 102 mile Cotswold Way at 50 relay walk in 2021. Photo: Russell Sach
We are delighted to announce that Rebecca Jones, our Volunteer and Access Lead, is among those who have been awarded a Member of Order of the British Empire (MBE) in The Queen’s Birthday Honours 2022. Rebecca (Becky) has been recognised for her services to volunteering and the environment.
Every June, on Her Majesty’s official birthday, a list of Birthday Honours is published – showing people who have been awarded for their extraordinary contributions and service across the UK. This year’s publication of the list happened just as the celebrations for Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee weekend began.
For over 20 years, Becky has been working with the Cotswold Voluntary Wardens to oversee conservation and access matters rights across the Cotswolds. She has remained steadfast in her commitment to the volunteer wardens across the Cotswolds throughout many organisational shifts and changes. She has seen the volunteer cohort grow to over 400 voluntary wardens today. Becky had no predecessor for her role, so has been instrumental in helping the wardens establish themselves as a ‘self-managing’ organisation working closely with the Cotswolds National Landscape team. She has implemented training for all elements of the voluntary wardens’ work, implemented record keeping, and forged a partnership working ethic which sees wardens working with Public Rights of Way (PRoW) teams to coordinate work on footpaths and bridleways.
The Cotswold Voluntary Wardens lead over 300 guided walks every year, and Becky has ensured that all walk leaders are fully trained in health and safety matters, map and compass reading, and emergency first aid. Attending a walk with the Cotswold Voluntary Wardens means people are in safe hands indeed.
Becky also observed that many of the volunteer wardens had existing skill sets which could be developed – and used this as the foundation to offer wardens more technical training – in dry stone walling, woodland coppicing, hedgelaying, and brushcutter and chainsaw use. Encouraging wardens to gain or maintain qualifications in these areas has equipped them perfectly with the skills and experience they need to help conserve and enhance the Cotswolds landscape.
Becky’s work encompasses so much more. She has championed young people for many years, by single-handedly initiating the education ‘branch’ of the voluntary warden body. Becky has always acknowledged that future conservation work will only be done if we inspire children and young people today about the importance and value of the Cotswolds landscape.
Bringing a personal touch to her work has been a constant theme throughout Becky’s career – she attends all the quarterly ‘district’ meetings the wardens hold annually – across all five districts. She checks in with wardens when they are unwell, and ensures those requiring any special arrangements have their needs met. She attends the funerals of wardens who have sadly passed away.
Becky, with no blueprint for how to harness the energy of these 400+ men and women, has shaped this group of volunteers into award winners. Today, the Cotswold Voluntary Wardens are known locally, nationally and internationally for their commitment, independent work, and for the scale of their activities. Their achievements were officially recognised by the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in 2018.
Andy Parsons, Chief Executive of the Cotswolds National Landscape said, “We couldn’t be more happy for Becky, or more proud of her. As a team, we work very closely – and so we see every day how hard Becky works, how dedicated she is, and how much extra she puts in. Seeing her awarded with an MBE is absolutely brilliant – she truly deserves it. Congratulations Becky!”
Becky Jones, MBE, Volunteer and Access Lead at Cotswolds National Landscape said, “I still can’t quite believe it. I’ve worked with the Cotswold Voluntary Wardens for many years, and many now feel like friends as well as colleagues – I feel very lucky to work with such an enthusiastic and active group of volunteers.”
Margaret Reid, Head Warden of the Cotswold Voluntary Wardens said, “Becky’s personal touch means that every warden knows her. We can all testify to her hard work and to her devotion to the work she does. It has been a pleasure to nominate her for such a prestigious award, and to see her honoured in this way.”