Abbie Mabey 31st March–7th September 2014, UK

Volunteering at the Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre was a special experience that I will remember forever. The tasks were varied and interesting, allowing us to get involved in all aspects of the centre, from helping in the visitor centre (taking boat bookings and talking to the public), to litter picks, updating social media, running educational activities, and doing land and boat surveys. These were particularly fun, even in the rain! New Quay itself is a lovely little place; with friendly locals and gorgeous scenery (the coastal path is especially beautiful).

And of course there were the dolphins. I gained a real understanding of how clever and complex these animals are, and I had some amazing encounters with them, especially on the all-day boat trips. The mother and calf pairs were extremely cute.  There is plenty of other wildlife too, kestrels, razorbills and lots of seals. My favourite memory was during a land watch, when we saw a harbour porpoise almost strand itself on one of the beaches, which the volunteers then had to save!

The other volunteers were some of the loveliest people I’ve ever met, and I have made some amazing friends. We filled the evenings with pub quizzes, beach barbeques and rock pooling, it was great fun. I was only supposed to volunteer for two months at the start of the season, but I loved it so much I went back for the summer as well.

It was my first time away from home, but everyone was really supportive and welcoming, making it easy to settle in. It definitely prepared me for university life. I’ve learned so much from the staff and all the volunteers and it’s inspired me to dedicate my career to conservation. I’m so grateful to the wonderful staff that allowed me to do it, I would recommend it to anyone!