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The Why.

TED talks seem to be the fashionable thing to watch these days, and I had one recommended to me a number of months ago that I watched and suddenly another aspect of how my brain works made sense to me. In it Simon Sinek explained his theory using the following diagram:

His suggestion is that influential people and organisations act and communicate in a completely opposite way to everyone else - most people are interested in and care about what they are doing, or even how they are doing something, but only a few are concerned with why they are doing it, and it’s those people who inspire.

I most definitely care most about the “why” and I struggle to get on-board with something unless I know there is a purpose behind it and that it’s a purpose I want to be a part of. In light of that, I want to share some of the “whys” behind our work here at the St Madoc Centre.

The site used to be a working farm before being given into Trust (becoming a charity) in 1944. The man who gave his farm to charity (Mr Burr) wanted it to be used as a place for vulnerable children and young adults to come during the war, and created the following aim:

“While life was being shattered this place was given for the healing of the soul.”

To this day, the centre exists to provide a place for disadvantaged kids and young people to come in order to experience life in a different way, to learn new skills, and to enjoy some rest from the stresses of their everyday lives. We do this by hosting schools, particularly those from disadvantaged areas and making their visits affordable by providing bursaries for kids from lower income families, by not charging people a lot of money to stay here, and by welcoming young people to come and volunteer. We want everyone who comes to explore what this place has to offer and enjoy being kids while they’re here. A typical school group visiting the centre takes part in a range of activities, from shelter building and pond dipping, to archery and orienteering, all in the hope of us honouring the original aim set out by Mr Burr.

We have a huge site of 76 acres to look after and so another aspect of our work here is conservation. Our land is full of lots of different types of plants and animals, and we want to make sure they have the best chance of staying here by managing the grounds well. For some people maintaining biodiversity might be enough of a reason to work hard at conservation, but here at St Madoc we have even more purpose in our work – we believe the earth was created by God and we want to honour Him by looking after His creation. We do this in lots of ways, including: moving our livestock around to different parts of the site at different times in order to allow wildflowers to grow (known as conservation grazing); having two wildlife ponds that attract insects and amphibians, which in turn attract birds and other animals; cutting back thicker plants to allow the smaller ones on the ground to get sunlight so they can grow; monitoring the birds, reptiles, mammals, moths, butterflies and other insects to enable us to have an idea of what is happening with the wildlife throughout the site.

In his TED talk Simon Sinek suggests that what we do simply proves what we believe, and we hope that’s the case for those who come to the centre. We hope that people come knowing this is a safe place to learn and experience nature, but also a place outside of their everyday lives that can contribute to the healing of their souls. If you feel that the “why” of the centre is something you’d like to get behind, why not contact us about bringing a group for a residential or to volunteer!

- Jemma Davies (Conservation Ranger)

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