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VTO at BrightGen: Taming Stisted’s Wild Footpaths

At BrightGen, we not only strive to excel in our professional capacity but also embrace opportunities to make a positive impact on the world around us.

Volunteer Time Off, or VTO for short, is a type of benefit that provides employees with paid time off to do volunteer work. It is an opportunity, provided by the company, that allows employees to take a day off from work to engage in volunteer activities of their choice. Whether it’s cleaning up beaches, assisting at local shelters, or participating in community events, the Volunteer Time Off Day encourages the employees to make a positive impact and give back to the community.

For his VTO day, Lee Prowse, one of our Project Leads, decided to put his muscles to work around Stisted, in the great outdoors. Armed with a collection of tools and sheer determination, he set out on a mission.

In and around Stisted, we’re blessed with a network of footpaths and bridleways. Some are well-maintained, weaving through crop fields, beautiful bluebell woods, and even a perfectly manicured golf course. But I didn’t pick those well-kept paths, instead I opted for the overgrown, challenging ones. You know, the ones filled with stinging nettles, impassable brambles, and low hanging branches.

Lee Prowse, Project Lead

A few weeks before my Volunteer Time Off day, I had a mission in mind. I’d heard about this impassable, thorny bramble path, which I refer to as the “Sleeping Beauty’s Castle” path. But to my surprise, I found that someone else had beaten me to it just a few days earlier! So, I kicked off my volunteer day with a brisk early morning walk, a dog in one hand, and secateurs in the other, to prune back the brambles that had been missed. That was the easy part, I thought. 

Back at home, it was time to prepare for the real challenge. I donned leather gloves, a bright orange protective headgear, and even a 23-year-old ‘Paribas Year 2000 Leader’ rugby top (excellent bramble protection, trust me!). Armed with branch loppers, a saw, and a strimmer, I ventured out again. Two footpaths, two miles, and countless re-threadings of the strimmer line later, I had made significant progress. But just as the strimmer batteries ran out, it was time for a well-deserved coffee and lunch break. 

After refuelling, it was time to hit the next two footpaths, which promised to be a bigger challenge. I swapped my tools for a heavy-duty metal-bladed brush cutter and marched off with the ‘gun’ over my shoulder. The first footpath was a breeze as the cutter made easy work of the grass, weeds, and brambles. But the final footpath was tough – a marshy jungle with a path that had seemingly vanished. Then, out of the blue, a stile appeared not too far off. Just a handful of meters to go, and wouldn’t you know it, the battery ran out, leaving me with a long trudge back across the fields to wrap up the day. But I’ll be back to conquer those last few meters of brambles and weeds! 

Thanks to the hard work, sweat, and a few battery changes, five footpath sections in Stisted are now way more usable for ramblers, dog walkers, and runners. And I’ve got a few more paths in my sights for the future.  

Volunteering might be a challenge, but the feeling of making a real impact on the community is absolutely worth it.  

If you’d like to join #TeamBrightGen, our recruitment team is always open for a conversation. Find out more about the company on our careers page or send your CV to [email protected].

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