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October 16, 2002

Donna recognised for conservation work

From: Croydon Guardian, UK
Oct. 16, 2002

South Norwood teenager Donna McLeer's love of conservation has won her a Millennium award for deaf people.

The 18-year-old from Wharncliffe Gardens volunteered to patrol the beaches of Barbados through the night to help reduce the death rate of endangered turtles.

Her visit, from September 4-15, followed her acceptance onto the Hawksbill Turtles of Barbados project and was made possible thanks to a Jack Ashley Millennium Award which financed her trip.

The former Coloma Convent Girls' School sixth form student said: "I know I have learnt an incredible lot from doing this project and it has really boosted my self confidence.''

Jack Ashley was a deaf MP and his awards are funded by the Millennium Commission and organised and administered by the National Deaf Children's Society.

The awards are given to young deaf people to help them take part in a challenge to improve their personal development.

Donna was born with moderate hearing loss and as a result has worn two hearing aids from the age of three. She said: "I have viewed my deafness positively. If anything it makes me feel special."

Donna's desire to do something that would help conserve and protect the environment led her to Earthwatch, an international non-profit organisation which relied on volunteers paying to participate in field work.

Her conservation work involved nightly patrols of nesting beaches and 24-hour response to public calls reporting nesting, hatching and injuries to sea turtles.

Donna began night patrols with teams of five from 8pm until 4am.

Teams rested once they had walked the length of the 1.5km beach for 10 minutes but were expected to patrol the beach throughout the night regardless of the weather.

Donna helped collect data while nesting turtles were laying their eggs and made sure turtles which had buried their eggs got back to the sea safely.

She said: "They are really are fascinating creatures."

Donna has just begun a geography degree at University College London after getting AAB at A-levels in Coloma Convent Girls' School and hopes to get a job in coastal management.

© Copyright 2002 Newsquest Media Group - A Gannett Company