Community projects near to a former nuclear facility in Dorset have benefited from thousands of pounds worth of funding.

The Winfrith nuclear research and development site started to be decommissioned in 1995 after its last operational reactor was closed.

The Nuclear Restoration Services (NRS), which is responsible for safely decommissioning first generation nuclear and research sites, has since invested over £10 million in community driven projects across the UK.

Now thanks to a £94,560 fund from the NRS there will be six additional Dorset Wildlife Trust heathland heritage traineeships created over the next three years.

This builds on the success of previous Tadnoll and Winfrith heathland traineeship programme that resulted in three young people gaining essential skills, accredited qualifications and experience to secure their first jobs in conservation.

The new traineeships will support young people from the local area and rural Dorset to study an accredited training package in access management, countryside skills, health and safety, media, public engagement and wildlife conservation.

Dorset Echo: Dorset Wildlife Trust trainee SebDorset Wildlife Trust trainee Seb (Image: NRS)

They will help to protect and restore three hectares of Purbeck’s iconic heathland heritage, support volunteer days, community events and guided walks as they earn while they learn.

A previous trainee summed up her experience: “The fact I now find myself as an assistant warden with Dorset Wildlife Trust is a testament to the fantastic training they have provided over the last seven months.

"It is truly the best possible outcome for myself, as I get to continue working in a job that I love, and with a charity that supports the development of their employees’ knowledge and skills.”

“Being able to contribute to the nature recovery of my community and continuing to learn and be challenged through my employment, is thanks to the Magnox (now NRS) funded traineeship, for which I am grateful to have been chosen.”

Dorset Echo: Wessex Girls FC in their new kitWessex Girls FC in their new kit (Image: NRS)

Funding of up to £2,000 has also kitted out Wessex FC girls team and enabled Wool Carnival Committee to purchase a gazebo, hire a PA system and provide first aid cover at the annual community event.

The NRS has also supported Wool Village Hall to improve audience experience with a new audio-visual system for its main hall.

The NRS’s works with the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) to support the communities nearest NRS sites to diversify, grow and thrive, including at Winfrith.

The NDA believes that decommissioning activities should benefit local communities and must provide a positive legacy once its work is completed.

Rob Fletcher, NRS CEO, said: “I’m proud of our commitment in delivering transformational projects aimed at securing sustainable futures for our communities.

"By investing in training, skills, infrastructure, and the environment, we’re laying the groundwork for lasting change.

"Our focus isn’t just on short term fixes, but on building robust foundations that empower individuals and communities.

"Through strategic socio-economic funding, we’re not only addressing immediate needs but also paving the way for growth and well-being.” 

“Our delivery on these vital fronts is not only enriching lives today but will also ensure that future generations inherit communities that are resilient and thriving.” 

Jamie Reed, NDA director of Socio-economics added: “It is a privilege to be part of a team committed to working with local partners to help improve, grow and diversify the economies in those communities closest to our sites.”

“Supporting essential projects helps us deliver our commitment to leaving a positive, long-lasting legacy for future generations, by creating jobs for the local community, as well as delivering environmental, economic regeneration and social benefits.”