Squirrel success lands Sally with national award

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THE success of a red squirrel group has helped a Ponteland woman to land a national honour.

Sally Hardy was among the winners under the Red Squirrel Survival Trust’s awards scheme, which was established to reward the vast army of volunteers working to preserve the under-threat species.

She helped set up Northern Red Squirrels (NRS), which brings independent voluntary groups together across the North East and Cumbria.

Mrs Hardy co-ordinates news and ideas among organisations, and since its launch in March 2008, NRS has attracted more than 40 member groups.

Mrs Hardy was a joint winner in the category of Leading Light, volunteers who take the red squirrel conservation message out into the community, along with fellow NRS co-ordinator Jackie Foott from Cumbria.

“I was very pleased to win the award, although I feel that my part of the accolade is down to all the red squirrel volunteers in the North East,” she said.

“Communication is very important in what we do and as well as keeping each other informed, groups can share best practice. It can also help to motivate volunteers if they hear about the progress made by others across the region.

“By working together, this includes the funded bodies and charities such as the Red Squirrel Survival Trust, we are more likely to succeed.

“NRS has recently welcomed Morpeth and District Red Squirrels into the fold.

“This group has really hit the ground running since it started earlier this year and it has already received an excellent response from Morpeth residents.”

Mrs Hardy is also the co-ordinator of Ponteland Red Squirrels.

The organisation 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 squirrel pox virus from grey squirrels.