A former police constable has swapped her truncheon for a trowel as the new head of environmental action group Wild Bicester.

After years cleaning up the streets as a Thames Valley Police officer, Veritie Turner is now helping people get their hands dirty to connect with nature.

The mum-of-two started her tenure by leading a series of winter wellbeing walks where dozens of locals joined her on bracing explorations of green spaces around the town that provide havens for birds, mammals and native plants even in the coldest months.

READ MORE: Department for Education to help county council with SEN provision

Ms Turner, Wild Bicester Project Officer for Berkshire, Buckinghamshire & Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust (BBOWT), said: "The wellbeing walks have been really well received because people have realised what they've been missing out on and how much of the natural world around them they don't notice.

“By coming on these walks they've taken time out of their busy lives to learn more - and now they can start to use that on a day-to-day basis.

“Like all the things we do, it helps people to reconnect with nature, which benefits them and also helps all of us look after our precious natural environment."

Ms Turner, originally from Stoke-on-Trent, moved to Milton Keynes to work for Thames Valley Police in 2006.

She spent three years as a constable, then worked for seven years as a Specially Trained Officer (STO), working with victims of sexual assault across Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire.

After spells working as a fitness instructor and a teaching assistant at her daughters' school near the family home just outside Milton Keynes, she joined the Wildlife Trust at the end of 2022.

She explained: "I've always had massive interest in wildlife and nature, and I really wanted to make that passion part of my work.

“With all the skills I've learnt working in the community, this was the perfect role."

The Wild Bicester project was launched by BBOWT at the start of 2021, in the middle of the third national coronavirus lockdown.

Funded by Cherwell District Council and Bicester Town Council, the project aims to bring people and nature together to create a greener, healthier and wilder Bicester.

Ms Turner spends a large part of her time connecting people who are already doing great work.

At Langford Community Orchard she helps volunteers look after the trees and other wildlife.

In the past few months she has organised a hedge-laying training session, helped put in new hedge plants and lent a hand with administrative jobs such as risk assessments.

If people contact her asking to volunteer she puts them in touch with the group leaders. On Sunday, April 16, she will have a stall at the group's spring open day from 2pm to 4pm.


Read more from this author

This story was written by Matthew Norman, he joined the team in 2022 as a Facebook community reporter.

Matthew covers Bicester and focuses on finding stories from diverse communities.

Get in touch with him by emailing: Matthew.norman@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter: @OxMailMattN1