The Argus' Pride of Gwent awards were held earlier this month, in which a plethora of dedicated volunteers were hailed for their hard work during the pandemic. Here we highlight just one of them.

RICHARD Evans’ mission to make and and put up nestboxes for wildlife is inspiring others to follow his example, both in the UK and the world, and has won him the Pride of Gwent’s Environment Award, sponsored by Newport City Council.

Since 2009 he’s made thousands of wooden structures at his home in Pontypool in a bid to increase numbers of bird, hedgehogs, dormice and bats.

South Wales Argus: Richard Evans Project Nestbox

Richard works in association with conservation organisations and has also put up nestboxes at a variety of sites, including several lying between Torfaen and Monmouthshire.

At the same time his ‘Project Nestbox’ activities have seen him visit several schools to talk to children about wildlife, birds and the environment in an effort to enthuse new generations to take care of the natural world around them.

His talks cover local bird life and wildlife that are in trouble, along with the risks from pollution and plastic.

“If I can get them interested and hooked for life, then hopefully we could encourage the next Iolo Williams,” he says.

While Richard has been unable to visit schools over the past year due to Covid-19, he’s had a number get in touch to ask if he will come and speak to their students once the pandemic has passed.

Richard, a veteran of the British Army, became interested in conservation during his childhood, when he used to make boxes with his carpenter father. He can still remember going back to one of the structures and seeing some eggs in it: “that was me smitten for life,” he’s said.

A period of convalescence following a road accident led Richard to revive his carpentry skills, and in 2009 he founded ‘Project Nestbox’.

Richard is particularly keen to encourage greater numbers of declining species, such as barn owls, redstarts and pied flycatchers. In 2019 he managed to attract 40 pairs, along with six pairs of redstarts and three of barn owls, all in Gwent. His goal is to get into double figures for barn owls. He is particularly keen to talk to farmers who are interested in encouraging more wildlife on their land. Richard’s work, which he showcases on a website and Facebook, has encouraged others to follow his lead, including a conservationist in Newent and a man called Pedja in Brazil.

Newport City Council delivers more than 800 services, helping to improve the lives of nearly 150,000 people in more than 65,000 households across the city.

It’s the eighth largest council in Wales and provide major services such as education, leisure, housing, social services, planning and highways.

The council works closely with many other organisations including public, private and third sector parties in order to improve the economic, social, environmental and cultural well-being of Newport.

It says that over the past year, the importance of partnership working and innovation across all areas has been clear. Part of its desire to support the Pride of Gwent Awards is to recognise the considerable and wide-ranging contributions of businesses, organisations, charities, volunteers and individuals.

South Wales Argus: NC improving peoples lives