ADVENTURER Steve Backshall is known to millions of young fans as the real life Action Man, who explores jungles, conquers snowy peaks and battles white water rapids.

But the TV star enjoyed more refined surroundings when he joined supporters of the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) to celebrate the achievements of volunteers.

Mr Backshall, who became president of the wildlife trust in 2010, was re-appointed for a further three years at the organisation’s AGM and conference at Oxford Brookes University.

The event saw conservation volunteers rewarded for their efforts in protecting wildlife and the habitats on which they depend.

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Five people received awards for their outstanding individual contribution, including Peter Simpson and Elizabeth Henderson, who run a charcoal burning project at the Warburg reserve, near Henley. The scheme allows wood left over from coppicing to be transformed and sold.

Witney Gazette:

Awards also went to Carol Dedman, who volunteers at College Lake in Buckinghamshire; invertebrates expert Sue Taylor; and John Ashford, who runs surveys for fungi, orchids and geology, leads guided walks and is a mentor for wildlife trainees.

A group award went to The Friends of Chimney Meadows – who work at scrub clearance, cutting back protruding branches, making habitat piles, hedging and fence repairs at the extensive reserve near Bampton.

Awards also went to the Buckinghamshire Mid-Week Team, and the Finemere Volunteer Work Party, at Finemere Wood, near Bicester, who help sustain populations of birds, invertebrates such as purple emperor, and ride and meadow vegetation.

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Martin Spray CBE and Dr Pam Berry were re-elected as honorary vice-presidents.

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A spokesman said: “BBOWT has 1,800 volunteers and each and every one of them is important to us. They are an essential and highly valued resource. They help on the ground, carrying out practical, and often very physical work, on our reserves, they carry out surveys, help with our educational activities and events, work in the office and keep an eye on our livestock. Without them, BBOWT wouldn’t be able to achieve the results for wildlife that it does.”