FIVE people have been awarded the Dorset Wildlife Trust ‘Wildlife Champions’ AQA award, which means they can go on to higher level studies to get a step closer to their dream jobs in conservation.

Diane Lawrence, Cathy Dyason, Sheila Dyason, Annette Middleton-Burke and Adam Sherring all received their certificates and awards from Dorset Wildlife Trust’s president, Tony Bates.

Cathy, Adam and Annette are all going into further study on the strength of being awarded this qualification. Annette Middleton-Burke started the course in August 2013 after deciding to change her career.

She said: “I have always been passionate about wildlife, but I quickly discovered that I would need relevant qualifications and experience, so the Wildlife Champions training scheme was perfect.

“At 53 years old, I didn’t think I’d be accepted but was delighted to find people from all walks of life are encouraged to attend. From that point I haven’t looked back.

“I have been offered a place at Sparsholt College in Hampshire to study for a degree in ecology and conservation management.

“This would not have been made possible without the Wildlife Champions qualification, and I’m so grateful to Dorset Wildlife Trust for helping me start my journey.”

DWT Wildlife Champions co-ordinator, Joy Wallis, said: “It’s a real pleasure watching our students learn, share their wildlife passions and even go on to achieve their dream jobs.

“The AQA units are a wonderful way to give accreditation to our volunteers as well, for all the wonderful work they do with us, and to help empower them to act as 'Wildlife Champions' within their local communities.

“We hope to have a team of people across Dorset who can lead and inspire others to enjoy and conserve the natural heritage around them, so there are benefits for both the individual and wildlife in Dorset.

“We are extremely grateful to The Heritage Lottery for funding the establishment of this course.”

To receive the Dorset Wildlife Trust certificate, students must complete four mandatory AQA units, and a selection of optional units, such as grassflower ID, butterfly ID, pond management and wildlife gardening.

For a full list of available units, and more information, visit website or contact Joy Wallis on 01305 264620, or email

To be eligible, students must be 16 or over and a permanent Dorset resident.