Sally’s on the squirrel shortlist

A PONTELAND woman’s dedication to red squirrel conservation could be recognised with a national accolade.

A new UK-wide awards scheme has been launched by the Red Squirrel Survival Trust (RSST) to honour the achievements of the many volunteers who give up their time to protect the animal.

And Sally Hardy, the co-ordinator of Ponteland Red Squirrels, has made the shortlist.

The group works to maintain and increase the population of reds in the Ponteland and Darras Hall areas, as well as raise awareness of the fact that without support and preservation measures, numbers will drop through destruction of habitat and catching the squirrelpox virus from grey squirrels.

She is also a leading force for Northern Red Squirrels (NRS), an umbrella organisation created to unite independent voluntary groups and individuals.

Members share news, ideas and best practice and since it started in March 2008, NRS has attracted more than 40 groups.

Mrs Hardy said: “It’s very nice to be on the shortlist and this reflects well on everyone involved with Ponteland Red Squirrels and Northern Red Squirrels.

“I’m pleased that red squirrel volunteers are being recognised at a national level.”

The scheme was set up to highlight the vast army of people working tirelessly to help save red squirrels from extinction in Britain. There are a range of award categories and the winners will be announced later this month.

RSST Chairman Miles Barne said: “Volunteers have been the backbone of much of the conservation work carried out on red squirrels and their decline over many years, be it fundraising, recording sightings and other data, trapping greys, feeding, or group administration and recruitment.

“They are generally a modest group and these awards are our way of offering some form of recognition and thanks for all their hard work.”