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Volunteer Profile: Michelle Appleby, Trainee, Durham Bat Group

28 July 2008

Every so often you get a new member who injects new life into the group with their commitment and enthusiasm for bat work. Michelle has definitely had that effect on the Durham Bat Group.

Michelle took part in her first activities in 2006 and decided to start training for a licence in 2007.  Since then she has taken part in pretty much every aspect of the groups activities including roost visits, public events, survey work for NBMP, our own long-term studies and consultancy work  and she even organised her own bat walks in Sunderland.  Michelle works for Sunderland City Council and her expertise is already starting to be recognised.

This year Michelle has successfully dealt with an upsetting incident in which several pregnant Common Pips were found trapped  inside council buildings  at Houghton-le-Spring. She organised the rescue, rehabilitation and release of the bats,  the survey work to identify the cause of the problem and  liaison with the managers and caretaking staff to prevent a problem in the future. The whole was achieved with a calm manner and application of common sense that is an example to us all.

Michelle has now started bat caring and is working with Diana Hague on the Count Bat Project. She has proved to be a quick learner when it comes to bats but her real strengths are her people skills. She can be very persuasive which might explain why her boyfriend has found himself spending so many evenings out in the cold in the company of bats!

"I have vivid memories of watching bats as child while playing at dusk in the garden of my grandma's bungalow.  I've always held an interest in bats and so joining the bat group with some encouragement from my friends seemed like a natural progression.

I am really enjoying the challenges brought by volunteering as a trainee bat worker.  I've had to face up to some of my own fears, I have never had a head for heights and I don't particularly enjoy the company of spiders, but I'm able to put aside my fears to work to conserve the bats of Durham, and it helps when you have the support of your friends in the Bat Group. My greatest experience so far has been becoming a bat carer, something I would have never dreamt of doing three years ago. I find it demanding but very rewarding, especially when the bats in your care are well enough to be released. As for the future, I look to gain my license and continue the work I have started." (Michelle Appleby)

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Is there someone in your group who deserves recognition? Perhaps because they're a long standing member of the bat world, or possibly because they've brought fresh enthusiasm and ideas to the group. If so, please do let us know!  All we ask is that you provide a few paragraphs explaining what they do, and why their work has been important.  We'll also need a photo...and permission from the nominee of course!

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