World of Difference

PUBLISHED: 10:52 09 September 2011 | UPDATED: 21:37 20 February 2013

Sarah Cowley from Devizes: Wiltshire Heritage Museum

Sarah Cowley from Devizes: Wiltshire Heritage Museum

Earlier this year, five people from Wiltshire won placements to work with their favourite charities. Vanesther Rees caught up with them to find out more

Earlier this year, five people from Wiltshire won placements to work with their favourite charities. Vanesther Rees caught up with them to find out more

Established to encourage people to do more for charity, the Vodafone Foundations World of Difference programme selects 500 people from across the country and provides them with salary and expenses, allowing them to donate their skills and experience full-time for two months to a cause they are passionate about. Here we find out just where our five Wiltshire winners went.

Ben Taylor from Burbage:"Wiltshire Wildlife Trust

My wife and I moved to Wiltshire in 2004, searching for a better quality of life and finding it in a charming little cottage in Burbage.

Established in 1962, the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust is supported by its loyal members and many, many volunteers. For the last two months I have been one of those volunteers.

At its heart, the Trust works to create a sustainable future for both wildlife and people. It approaches this in a unique way, combining the management of 42 nature reserves with the work it does with local communities in promoting sustainable living. Using my skills as a communications professional, I have been working on a huge variety of projects, from the Sarsen Trail (a yearly fundraising walk from Avebury to Stonehenge), to Climate Week and plans for the Trusts 50th birthday in 2012.

You have probably enjoyed a walk on a Trust nature reserve, or your children may have learnt about sustainable living through its extensive schools programme. In 2010 alone the Trust worked with more than 15,000 pupils.

The Trust encourages people to reduce food waste through composting, demonstrates the benefits of real nappies, tackles invasive plants, protects endangered species, and works with military communities to provide the opportunity to enjoy nature... to name but a few of their projects.

My work here has changed my perspective on many things especially my attitude to waste. The passion of the people here and the work they are undertaking has ensured that I will continue to volunteer whenever I can and help in the spreading the good work of the Trust and the ever-present need to grow its membership.

If youre not a member already, maybe you should consider it. Itll help us all enjoy the beauty of Wiltshire long into the future.

Sarah Cowley from Devizes: Wiltshire Heritage Museum

Wiltshire has been home for myself, my husband and two daughters for three years, since we returned to England after five years in France. We live in Roundway, a hamlet on the outskirts of Devizes, surrounded by farmland yet a ten-minute bicycle ride from the centre of town along the old Quakers Walk.

Our old farmhouse looks out onto the millennium white horse, and it is said that in the Civil War the Cromwellian general had breakfast here before being defeated in the Battle of Roundway Down.

Ever since our first visit to the Wiltshire Heritage Museum in Devizes, it has been a firm favourite. Behind an unassuming Georgian facade, it is a hidden gem, with a nationally recognised Bronze Age collection. Every day I am there I visit a different case, and each time something new catches my eye; a small but beautifully formed gold knot ring, a perfect Iron Age pot, not to mention fulfilling my childish desire to put on the (replica) centurions helmet which sits on top of one of the many dressing-up boxes.

Although my normal working world is as a change and leadership consultant for large organisations, I was delighted to be able to take up the opportunity to become immersed in another world.

Like all independent museums, the museums financial position is not guaranteed, and my work has been to help the museum become more sustainable, looking at fundraising, publicity and sponsorship.

Too many are unaware of the breadth and depth the museum offers, and I have particularly enjoyed introducing people to the museum for the first time, each time to be greeted with I hadnt realised what a wonderful place it is... I must bring my children/mother/great uncle!

I feel great pride in being part of such an inspiring place, and I will be working with the museum throughout the year to do my bit to make a difference.

The museum itself is going from strength to strength, and through the efforts of David and his team, has just been awarded a grant towards the first stage in building new Bronze Age galleries. Being able to contribute even something small has been immensely satisfying, and an experience I will always value.

Fiona Hulbert from Salisbury:"Council of Christians and Jews

I worked for the Council of Christians and Jews in London, Britains oldest inter-faith organisation. It oversees a wide range of projects to bring people together and promote understanding. Ive been arranging events like a rabbis and black clergy dialogue, and planning for Jewish leaders to talk to Christian clergy in training. Ive also been promoting their pack for citizenship education in schools.

Sophie Willingale from Malmesbury:"Go Help

Ive been working with Go Help, which operates health and education projects in Central Asia funded through innovative and sustainable adventure-related events. Id worked for Go Help voluntarily for two years and it is an inspirational charity with phenomenal potential.

One of the things Go Help does is run vehicle rallies to Central Asia, and my work has been developing our ambulance project in Mongolia and working with the amazing people at the London Ambulance Service. The Mongolia Charity Rally this year has seven decommissioned London ambulances being driven out by Service staff to be placed via Go Help into Mongolian hospitals, and Ive been helping them with that process.

Alice Ramsay from Marlborough:"Birdlife International

My placement was with Birdlife International, a global partnership of conservation organisations, working to conserve birds, their habitats and biodiversity.

They are currently exploring the potential implications for birds of large scale solar farms, which generate energy from solar panels installed across large tracts of land. During my placement I produced a report to promote the development of solar energy in a way which will limit any negative impacts on migratory birds.

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