In this post Crick Carleton tells us all about his work with Peebles Community Trust and all that involves – plus we find out a bit more about what makes him tick.
I’ve been coordinator of Peebles Community Trust since it was set up five years ago. But I’ve given notice to the Board that we need to find a replacement. In the meantime, I’ve said I’m working-to-rule!
Peebles is a very volunteering community and, like a lot of people involved in the Trust, I run my own business – with my wife, Myriam, who also volunteers for the PCT – and have done since 1979. But you can find yourself taking on more duties than you probably should; something comes up and people say: “Oh – Crick will do that . . . “ We even hold PCT board meetings in my house.
I recently met with the new DTAS outreach officer for this area, and one of the first things he asked was to check that I was in a paid position with the PCT, and I think he was a little surprised to hear that the answer was no – we are all volunteers. That said, we do need the coordinator’s job to be a paid post – and based in an office near the town centre where we can also have meetings. And we need some new Board members for the Trust as well.
The three core activities of the PCT are strategic planning, community engagement and projects, and what we’ve achieved in just five years is pretty impressive. Ultimately we lost our hard-fought campaign to acquire the Kingsmeadow Estate for the community but what we learned on that project has set us up for our current push to acquire part of the recently closed March Street Mill site.
I did my first volunteering whilst at school, when I was introduced to the Conservation Corps – involving weekend and holiday conservation projects, though most of it seemed to involve chopping things down or digging things up. Then when I was just out of university I did my first stint of overseas volunteering. I went with VSO for two years to Northern Nigeria where I worked as a fisheries superintendent. I’d done a degree in zoology – with no fish content! – but I said I’ll do anything except teach so that’s what they gave me. Since then, most of the work I’ve undertaken (as a natural resource economist) has been concerned with fishing and marine matters.
When the two years were up, my flatmate and I hitched back to the UK – across West Africa from east to west, part of it through the desert – getting lifts on these massive cattle wagons where we shared space with huge piles of dried animal skins and containers of rancid butter. At night, we’d unroll our woven mats and sleep outside under the lorry.
The journey took six weeks, travelling through Niger, Benin and Ghana, Upper Volta, Mali and Senegal, and by the time I got home – just about this time of year, in fact – I’d picked up an infection from contaminated food and water and had a temperature of 103.
By Crick Carleton, Peebles Community Trust