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London’s eight Royal Parks offer 5,000 acres of historic, nature-rich parkland across the capital. During a single trip you could spot a little owl having a much-needed nap, a rare butterfly floating around in the breeze, or an 800-year-old tree that wouldn’t look amiss in a fairytale.
You may also notice some friendly figures in orange, roaming about the landscape - our Volunteer Rangers! They help visitors get the most out of their experience by sharing facts about the history and nature of the parks, tips on the best walking or cycling routes, advice on how we can all Help Nature Thrive, and information about what the public can see and do in these unique green spaces.
Volunteer Rangers – recruitment currently closed
Please note that recruitment for Volunteer Rangers at Richmond, Bushy, and Greenwich Parks is currently closed. If you’re friendly, approachable, enthusiastic, and want to help us tell the fascinating stories of the original Royal Park, do keep an eye on this webpage for the next Volunteer Ranger recruitment drive.
Meet some of our Volunteer Rangers
David Beaumont is a ranger in Richmond Park. He lives in St Margaret’s
I work as a tour guide so being a Volunteer Ranger felt like the perfect fit
I saw a recruitment post on the Friends of Richmond Park Facebook page in December 2019 and knew I had to apply. I also had a keen interest in learning more about this National Nature Reserve that covers 2,500 acres!
My favourite part of the job is talking to people
Because I’m a tour guide and love sharing my knowledge, my favourite aspect of the job has been interacting with visitors and hopefully providing them with both useful and useless information. Useless information? There’s a wren sculpted into the gate of ’The Way.’ It’s there in reference to Christopher Wren who was the architect of St Pauls’ Cathedral which can be seen in the distance from that spot. Useless information but when you mention it to visitors, they all react in the same surprised manner. That’s fun!
I love Richmond Park, I’ve been visiting the park for over 60 years
Sometimes, in the week, it’s just you, your fellow Ranger and the wildlife. That’s magical. I also call it the lung of London, breathing fresh air into this vast metropolis. Has anything surprised me? Yes. How many people it takes to run the park. I was blissfully unaware what a massive job it is to run the park and keep it healthy. For 60 years, I’ve just walked my dogs there in blessed ignorance.
Lara Haswell is a Volunteer Ranger for Bushy Park and lives in Surrey.
I applied because I wanted to give back to my local park
I enjoy volunteering and serving the community and wanted to devote some of my personal time towards helping to protect the natural world. Bushy Park is my local go-to happy place, so I was delighted and honoured to be a part of this initiative, and subsequently become a part of the history of the park!
Rangers help protect the natural world through engagement
Proximity to the deer and their behaviour are probably the most common topics of conversation in Bushy Park. A lot of visitors do not realise the deer are wild and need their space (the recommended distance is 50m), and families are particularly drawn towards the fallow deer. It’s a great personal achievement to know that you have helped make a positive difference to the future of the park by educating visitors on wildlife and nature more generally.
You always have a partner when ‘rangering’
The volunteer shifts work on a buddy basis, so you will never go out in the park alone, and it means that every time you are on shift you are likely to be with a different person, sharing knowledge of the park and learning different approaches to engagement
Dr Ramai Santhirapala is a Volunteer Ranger for Richmond Park.
As a frontline NHS worker during the pandemic, Richmond Park helped me recharge in between long and gruelling shifts
During the first lockdown I would protect a morning a week to go for a long walk in Richmond Park and felt so rejuvenated by the varied landscape, colours, and nature, including the deer. I would literally enter tired and leave energised! It impressed on me how lucky we are in London to have these exceptionally well-maintained green spaces open to the public. I knew I wanted to find some way to give back to the Royal Parks.
The ranger role is very flexible, and the minimum requirement is four hours a month
A nice aspect of the Ranger role is its flexibility, with plenty of options including the weekends. Overall, the Ranger role requires a commitment of four hours per month split into two-hour slots, though many of us choose to do more, simply because it is immensely enjoyable and satisfying. It is time incredibly well spent.
I love to learn and that’s what really appeals about this role
Did you know there were as many yellow meadow ants in Richmond Park as there are people in the world? One Ranger session included watching deer swim across a lake, a mother swan turn her eggs and listening to skylarks with a rare opportunity to see one during a fast swoop downwards.
Stephen Read is a Volunteer Ranger in Richmond Park
There is always more to discover about Richmond Park
I have been incredibly lucky to have lived near Richmond Park for the past thirty years (where has the time gone!). Due to its immense size, there are always little nooks and crannies to be discovered or a new view to marvel at
Our uniform means you really can’t miss us
Wearing a bright orange uniform means you really are visible to everyone. One of the biggest surprises to me is how welcoming the public have been to us.
There are many benefits to being a ranger
In particular the comradery from your fellow Volunteer Rangers who come from all walks of life. We also benefit from brilliant workshops provided by The Royal Parks on lots of different topics including the free roaming deer, butterflies, invertebrates, birds, history, and geology. The cafes in the park have given us a very generous discount should you work up an appetite while out and about.
My advice to wannabe rangers is just to give it a go!
Don’t be daunted feeling you have to know everything about everything, none of us do. What all rangers have in common is a love of the park and a desire to learn new things in a most beautiful environment. I can honestly say it’s one of the most rewarding and enjoyable volunteering opportunities I’ve had
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