Matt Butler, Visitor Ranger

In honour of #WorldRangerDay, Matt shares a day in the life of a Duty Ranger and the varied duties they undertake on a typical day in Nene Park.

Start of the day: Most of us arrive in the yard to start our day. Some earlier, some slightly later. We all start off with a drink to wake us up and then pull on our work boots to get prepared for the day. On the dot, not a minute later of our start time, we are out in the yard getting into vehicles and preparing the tools for the day depending on our jobs. The Duty Ranger for the day will get in to the van and head into the Park to start checking play areas and infrastructure.

Other members of the team will be preparing for the days tasks. These vary from tree work, grounds and estates maintenance and the general upkeep and care of the park.  All these jobs change depending on the season.

In the summer, we do a lot of litter picking, mowing and strimming to keep the Park looking fabulous for the school holidays and weekends. Replacing bollards benches and other park furniture when needed, flailing areas of land and pulling Himalayan balsam, ragwort and thistle.

In the winter, we undertake tree work and hedge cutting to ensure that we don’t disrupt birds nesting in bushes and trees. We also do all our bird box repairs and replacements, cleaning them out ready for the next nesting season, such as the sand martin boxes found on Lynch Lake.

Duty Ranger Schedule:

10:00 By this time our Duty Ranger should have finished the morning checks and be filling in the diary and tick sheets to confirm everything we have checked is safe for the public to use. The second Duty Ranger will be starting and will usually head out towards the Rural Estate.

10:30 Once they get to Castor they head to East Holmes, Splash Lane, Station Road and Sutton to check each area of land, walking the various loops and picking up any litter found. We look for many things on our walks, such as damaged trees, fires and vandalism to name but a few. We like to engage with the public and show a presence from the trust on the Rural Estate.

11:00 The first Duty Ranger will start to check the other areas of the main Park, such as Bluebell Wood, Lynch Wood and Lynch Plantation. During this time we may have phone calls from members of the public requesting assistance. This could mean opening the height barrier in the car park, or coming to the rescue for a first aid incident. This has become more challenging during Covid times with social distancing, however we help where we can.

12:00 The second Duty Ranger will have completed the Rural Estate checks and be heading towards Thorpe Meadows and then Orton Mere. In these areas we check the sculpture collection, benches and other Park furniture for anything out the ordinary. If we do find something broken, we try and fix it there and then, but if not we make a note in our notepad and come back to it later. Some jobs require more tools than we have on hand.

12:30-14:00 The second Duty Ranger is usually back in the Park and the First Ranger will take a lunch break with the rest of the team, before swapping with the second Duty Ranger. We take it in turns to hold the phone so our lunch isn’t disturbed.

14:00-14:30 After both lunch breaks, the Duty Rangers do a check of the toilet blocks to ensure they are clean and filled with soap and tissues, and make sure all facilities are working soundly.

14:30-16:30 For the rest of the afternoon, the Duty Rangers complete any outstanding checks. We also complete any maintenance tasks that we’ve have found during the day.

16:30-Finish This is the time any outstanding small jobs are completed. During this time, we concentrate on jobs such as filling up bird feeders, hand sanitisers and receipt rolls for parking machines. All the small jobs that keep the Park ticking over and looking great. We then head back to the yard to fill out our log of the day’s events and report on anything notable.

Time to sit back and relax, ready to come back and do it all again tomorrow!