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The Big Society

No 1: Harrogate & District Naturalists’ Society General secretary David Tipping is the man on the spot.

Are you a big society?
We have in the region of 300 members.

When you were formed?
In 1947.

What are your aims and ambitions?
To preserve, promote and record wildlife. Members are encouraged to submit records of local wildlife sightings to a team of recorders and this is published in an annual report and a separate annual bird report. We also organise a series of winter slide shows covering all aspects of natural history, both local and around the world. We also have summer field trips and we manage Farnham Gravel Pit, near Knaresborough, for wildlife (we do not own the site so can’t describe it as a nature reserve).

Your proudest moments?
In 2007 a Pacific Loon visited Farnham and stayed for several days – the first time this bird has ever been recorded in the UK. It attracted ‘twitchers’ from far and wide.

How important do you think voluntary societies are in the life of the country?
Amateur naturalists have been the backbone of much discovery in the past 200 years. There is also a valuable social aspect, bringing people together from all sectors of life to exchange information. There is an educational aspect too – somebody within the society will be able to put a name to just about any bird, animal, fish, insect or plant, and tell you something about it.

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