On Tuesday we said goodbye to NEWT's first volunteer, Luther, a czechoslovakian wolfdog crossed with a Northerin Inuit. Not many people know but back in 2011 I hadn't left the house in over two years, then in 2011 I decided to change things and force myself to get out more by being responsbile for a dog, that led to me buying what I thought would be a German Shepard sized dog but turned out to be more like a wolf.
As the years went by, areas in Bolton I had not visited for decades or quite simply never even knew about I discovered with Luther. Finding remote areas hidden away from the public, most of them had been in terrible states of neglect, covered in flytipping. To make these areas safe for Luther and also enjoyable for me to sit there with him, I began clearing the flytipping and making seats from discarded logs at Blackshaw Brook, one of the first but not last areas I cleared with Luther. One of the best tricks that I taught Luther was to dig on command, this turned into both a benefit and hinderance when I turned my back to carry out work only to discover a 2 foot hole in the ground behind me.
The clearing of the land at Blackshaw Brook back in 2013/14 led to other people using the area to walk their dogs and so I moved on to another area, completely oblivious to the fact that I had just started down a path towards conservation. Later that year while chatting with Peter Hunter he informed me about the Wildlife Trust, I started volunteering with them and many years later after volunteering with numerous groups Bolton NEWT was born. As part of the NEWT tasks and management of Leverhulme Park it's highly important to visit a site before commencing work and to also regularly visit the sites after the work has been done, every site visit since 2017 was done on walks with Luther.
Often sat at Leverhulme Park with Luther thinking about ways to improve the park or make it better for everyone to enjoy, that's exactly what we did. Quite simply Bolton NEWT would have never been founded without Luther, I would have never discovered my passion for conservation, NEWT committee members would have never met and become lifelong friends, there would have never been the Halloween Events, Christmas events, the summer and Spring events for Breightmet, the meadows at Leverhulme Park, the lost paths we recovered, the wetlands we restored, none of it would have ever happened had Luther not come on the scene. So with that, we say goodbye to Bolton NEWT's first volunteer. Rest in peace big wolf.