New Forest conservation group wins Royal approval

The Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire presented ‘the MBE of voluntary service’ to Pondhead Conservation Trust on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen.

Pondhead Conservation is a New Forest community woodland project restoring 200 acres of Crown woodland on the outskirts of Lyndhurst. Run entirely by volunteers who provide over 4,000 hours of free labour each year, Pondhead Conservation works with various diverse groups within the community.

The woodland is managed on a fully sustainable basis and work is funded by running craft courses and producing high quality BBQ charcoal, which is sold through a network of New Forest outlets. The project’s overall aim is to improve the woodland’s biodiversity and increase public enjoyment of the space.

The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service is the highest honour that can be bestowed upon a voluntary organisation in the UK and is subject to a rigorous selection process, with the final decision resting with the Cabinet Office in London. The award was established to mark the Queen’s Golden Jubilee in 2002, there have been only 38 recipients in the county of Hampshire.

The award comprised a commemorative glass crystal together with a citation signed personally by the Queen. Founding members and Trustees Dave Dibden and Derek Tippetts received the award on behalf of the group.

Over 40 people gathered in Lymington on Wednesday 5 September for the award ceremony with many of the group’s volunteers present.

In thanking the Lord Lieutenant Atkinson, Derek Tippetts expressed thanks to the New Forest National Park Authority and New Forest Trust for their initial generous funding of equipment. The National Park Authority has provided advice and over £23,000 worth of grants to the project since the start. Derek also thanked the Forestry Commission who granted their license for the restoration work.

Pondhead Conservation Trust runs a varied programme of tasks and events throughout the year and always welcomes new volunteers and visits from local organisations and businesses. Full details can be obtained via their website at