Nature-loving Sheila picks up cup for her wildlife work

Sheila Norris with the Rushen Cup

Sheila Norris with the Rushen Cup

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This year’s recipient of the Rushen Parish Millennium Cup is Sheila Norris, awarded for her voluntary work looking after the Ballachurry nature reserve near Rushen parish church.

The cup, established in 2000 by Stan and Pam Clucas, is awarded each year to a person or group that has made a significant voluntary contribution to the community within the parish of Rushen.

The reserve is on land owned by Stan and Pam and seven years ago they assigned an area where Manx Wildlife Trust (MWT) could develop the wetlands.

Sheila has been regularly visiting the site to check on its condition and to record the species of plants and animals found there.

‘I usually spend a couple of hours there,’ she said. ‘I walk round very slowly, I usually do two laps, one in one direction then the other way.

‘I write down anything of interest I see and when I get home I upload the photos and put a grid reference on them – they will go on a biodiversity data base – and email Stan and copy MWT and Andree Dubbeldam [wild flower specialist] and a group of followers.

‘If it moves and I know what it is, I record it, if I don’t know, I ask. I also record plants and flowers.’

This is a ‘hobby’ but she admits ‘it has got out of control’ and she has amassed a shelf full of reference books, including ‘an interesting one on slugs’.

The presentation of the cup, at a recent MWT meeting, was a big surprise.

She said: ‘You could knock me down with a feather. I almost feel I have been given a cup for going out and enjoying myself. It makes me feel good that the survey work gives pleasure to other people. When I looked at the other names on the cup, I felt quite humbled.

‘I must admit it made me feel proud to be living in Rushen, it made me feel I belong in a special way. I will work twice as hard in future to deserve it!’

For more information about the MWT Southern Group, contact Janet Thompson, phone 835524 or by email jthompson@manx.net

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