I have absolutely loved my time working at Wembury Marine Centre as a full-time volunteer Marine Awareness Assistant, and could not have asked for a better opportunity.  The amount of knowledge and experience that I have been able to gain while working here is insurmountable.

During my short time, I have had the pleasure of working with over 1,750 members of the public and 2,500 school children from over 60 different schools sometimes delivering presentations to 90 schools kids! Something that I would never have seen myself doing before joining the ‘Wembury crew’! Although the initial prospect of delivering such large presentations to what can sometimes be described as ‘not the most attentive’ of audiences was slightly daunting, with the fantastic guidance and encouragement of Cat and Coral I came to really enjoy delivering them! Who would have thought!?

Throughout my time here I’ve helped build fires, shelters, rafts, seashore art, I’ve cleaned beaches, recorded species, given presentations, attended lectures, searched the strandline, gone bug hunting, performed surveys, all the while being constantly amazed at the wondrous creatures that inhabit our rocky shores.
So as my time at Wembury Marine Centre draws to a close I am reminded of some of the most enjoyable times that I have had working here over the past 6 months. From finding my first Tompot blenny (Parablennius gattorugine) (in the presence of Paul Naylor no lest!) and being amazed at its unrivalled beauty to finding a gorgeous Giant Goby (Gobius cobitis), an uncommon find in the UK. From leading public rockpool safaris and being able to show the public just how amazing the marine life around Devon really is, to leading school organised rockpool safaris and (hopefully!) inspiring local children to take an active role in safeguarding this precious environment.

I’ve taken snorkelling groups out and been given the opportunity to show people the incredible treasures that lie beneath the waves at Wembury and am always rewarded with the much-repeated phrase (though none-the-less meaningful!), “Wow, I never knew there was so much marine life in the UK!”. This one phrase to me means that I have accomplished my goal of educating and have successfully driven a greater appreciation for marine life in the UK, and that all the time and effort that both the full-time staff and all the dedicated volunteers have put in is having a positive outcome.
I will end with saying a huge thank you to both Cat and Coral for giving me this fantastic opportunity, I have learnt so much in my time at the Centre and will take away nothing but positive memories from my experiences here. Also, a massive thank you to Devon Wildlife Trust without whom the exceptional work of the centre could not continue, the dedication of everyone within the trust both full-time staff and volunteers really is inspiring.

AJ Richards 

Edit from Cat and Coral – it’s been a pleasure to have you on the team AJ : )