Whitlingham Country Park ranger up for Inspirational Hero award

A PARK ranger who has helped to transform young ex-offenders has been nominated for an inspirational hero award.

Edgar Hoddy, of Ashby St Mary, has been working with teenagers at Whitlingham Country Park for the last year, and now his efforts have been recognised after being shortlisted for the National Trust's Octavia Hill Awards.

Mr Hoddy has helped two groups of youths learn about the countryside and develop a wide range of skills, while also undertaking his other ranger responsibilities across the park and Yare Valley.

And it was the work with the teenagers that earned him a prized shortlisting in the National Trust's search for the country's 'green heroes'.

Mr Hoddy, 56, said: 'I am quite a modest chap to be quite honest. I enjoy what I do, being involved with supporting and teaching youngsters.

'We believe that every child matters and try to get to the seat of individual problems so we can possibly help them.'

He first signed up as a temporary volunteer for the Broads Authority but is now a vital part of the ranger team.

Most Read

His responsibilities include patrolling the valleys, river and park, clearing the rights of way, and teaching two days a week.

Through this he has helped young ex-offenders and pupils in Norwich schools and City College Norwich learn about countryside management and improve their practical skills.

'They say I have got a way with people, and I suppose I have. I believe in earning respect, then once you get respect you progress with them,' he said.

Mr Hoddy has lived in Norfolk all his life and has always been keen to do his part for conservation.

'I believe we are custodians of the countryside, and we can maintain what we have got and try to improve it in some ways,' he said.

Mr Hoddy was nominated for the award, which is run in partnership with BBC Countryfile Magazine, by Adrian Vernon, Broads Authority head of ranger services.

Mr Vernon said: 'He manages to bring youngsters out of their shell and get them involved in useful practical tasks. He makes learning fun and has a good rapport with the groups.

'A number of previous pupils have already returned and thanked him for what he has done for them and how he helped them gain confidence that has lead to employment and a different path in life.'

The other two people on the shortlist for the award are a youth worker from Liverpool and a Sheffield community champion.

The winner will be decided by a public vote which closes on April 9. To vote visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/octaviaawards

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter