For our open weekend this year, we asked our Gateway Hubs – Mount Edgcumbe, National Marine Aquarium, Mount Batten Centre, and Plymouth Active, to each nominate an individual who goes above and beyond at their organisation to become an winner of a golden ticket experience.

Each nominee was rewarded with a golden ticket to experience the snorkel at the aquarium activity at the National Marine Aquarium across the weekend. Our winners this year are Will Wooller, Claire Burnett, John Baddick and Alfie Brown. We sat down with them to talk about their roles and the National Marine Park.

Will Wooller

Will has been nominated by Sam Waites, Watersports and Activities Manager at the Mount Batten Centre, and has been volunteering at the centre on young people’s sailing courses. Will goes above and beyond to help young people learn to sail with his friendly, encouraging, and supportive coaching style. He’s never afraid to get wet and always thinks of others before himself. Will has a positive and uplifting attitude towards sailing within Plymouth Sound National Marine park that is highly infectious, and gives up his own time to encourage and support nervous sailors.

In his own words Will’s favourite part of the role, aside from being out on the water, is being able to help the more hesitant participants try sailing for the first time and watch their confidence levels grow as the course progresses. His favourite thing to do in Plymouth Sound National Marine Park is sailing. It doesn’t matter whether he is instructing, casual sailing or racing. It will always one of his favourite things to do, and recommends experiencing the marine park in whatever way possible whether that be through watersports or a walk along the coastline.

Claire Burnett

Claire has been nominated by Pauline Barker MBE on behalf of Plymouth Active. Whenever Claire comes to swim, she always brings her litter-picking pincers and collects at least a whole bag of rubbish at the beaches around Plymouth and on her walk in whilst actively encouraging others to do so. Claire swims at Tinside Lido and Mount Wise pools and was involved in the administration side of The Mermaid Work Record Challenge that took place at the Lido last year.

Claire has been inspired to litter pick to protect the generation of humans and to protect wildlife. A few years ago it dawned on her that the rubbish on our streets if not removed often ends up down drains and into our seas so her inner-city picks began, inspiring people to join and help clean our patch. For the last 10 years, Claire has picked on the coastline, as a way of paying nature back for her free swims!! Claire has no favourite part of the coastline around Plymouth as in her own words, we are so lucky to have coves, beaches, and the lido all within short distances. We couldn’t agree more! Claire would encourage anyone who uses the sea to look after it and not walk past rubbish.

John Baddick

John is a volunteer ranger at Mount Edgcumbe and has been nominated by David Marshall, business development manager. John has been volunteering solidly at Mount Edgcumbe for two years and has helped with delivering their events as well as being a key player in the construction of the new Deer Fence. John and his dog Lulu are always a positive influence at Mount Edgcumbe and he is a larger-than-life character.

John finds his role very vast, from tree surgery to setting up events, chatting to the public when working around the grounds to deer fencing there’s always something to do. In John’s own words, he thinks the whole National Marine Park is amazing, it’s hard for him to name a favourite thing to do but of course the coastal walks with his dog are up near the top. John says the one thing people should do is support and visit all around the National Marine Park, enjoy the coast, and visit Mount Edgcumbe park to experience their beautiful landscapes and amazing gardens.

Alfie Brown

Alfie has been nominated by Lottie Hawkins, public and community engagement coordinator at the National Marine Aquarium, as he is an incredible role model for young people. Alfie has so much enthusiasm and passion for the Ocean, and in Lottie’s words, it’s always such a pleasure to have him on Ocean Squad.

Being a part of Ocean Squad has allowed Alfie to push his social boundaries and try new things. Alfie gets involved with anything he can relating to the aquarium, and he enjoys sharing random facts he has learned with visitors. Alfie’s favourite part of his role at the Aquarium is learning and educating others about the human effects on the ocean, and how our behaviours could change to save it and the animals that inhabit it. Alfie loves to chill out with the sharks and turtles, and then go to Captain Jasper’s for a tasty burger, and highly recommends the snorkelling experience.

We’re really proud of our winners and are grateful for their work around the National Marine Park, it’s great to be able to give back to the people that look after Plymouth Sound as a thank you for the hard work they are doing.