It’s a tweet life for Ulley park ranger

Ulley Country Park ranger John Jackson G130503-2b
Ulley Country Park ranger John Jackson G130503-2b

John Jackson is one of those rare creatures - a man happy in his work.

His enthusiasm for his job as park ranger is as evident now as it must have been 13 years ago when he started.

His love affair with the outdoors began when he was at comprehensive school and chose to do his work experience placement at Ulley Country Park.

From then on he spent as much time helping out there as he could, in his holidays from school and then Sunderland University, where he studied environmental biology.

The 37-year-old said: “In this kind of job it’s important to get practical experience, so I helped out every chance I got until I was offered a job.”

“People think of Rotherham as industrial but we’ve got this fantastic countryside. I never get bored of it.”

His most dramatic moment came during the 2007 floods when he discovered that the reservoir wall was at risk of collapse.

He said: “I was on my day off but I saw what was happening on the news and rang my boss to ask if anything needed doing.”

“I went to check on Ulley,and didn’t leave for the next two weeks.”

The council’s emergency plan was put into place and John remembers BBC and Sky news helicopters circling overhead during the anxious wait to see if the wall would hold out.

“It was quite exciting and the adrenalin was going,” he said.

“We didn’t stop for a fortnight, doing things like removing trees so that the engineers could get machines in.”

John, of Brecks, divides his time between Ulley and Thrybergh parks, both run by Rotherham council.

He is one of four core staff whose job it is to look after and maintain the parks, as well as providing information for visitors.

The most common question John is asked is: “What do you do?”

So he decided to take to social media to spread the word about what he gets up to on a day to day basis.

He set up a Twitter account and makes regular tweets about what is going on at the park.

His postings have proved so popular he now has more than 460 followers.

“I try to let people know what is happening and give them information such as if we’ve got a certain bird here they might want to see,” he said.

Wildlife at Ulley includes buzzards, kestrels, sparrowhawks, voles, hares, foxes and hedgehogs.

A cottage garden with herbs and a crab apple tree attracts a range of insects.

John’s work includes showing visiting school children the joys of nature.

“People say that kids aren’t interested these days in anything they can’t plug in, but that’s not the case. They really enjoy the activities here,” he said.

With John’s enthusiasm, he could be cultivating the next generation of rangers.

Find him on Twitter @UlleyRanger.