Time is flying and we are currently experiencing a welcome few days of rain in the midst of the hottest recorded temperatures since the Great Heatwave of 1976. It has been worrying indeed to see the Forest so tinder dry and with daily news of other valued heaths and moorlands aflame, we would ask everyone to be especially vigilant if these conditions return, to help prevent a similar tragedy.
PERCH BENCH PROJECT
As reported in our last Newsletter, the completion of the Perch Bench project courtesy of Cllr George Russell’s community funding has allowed us to proceed with our launch of a fun competition to run throughout the summer months. We were fortunate to receive publicity via the Stour and Avon magazine who featured a photo of Cllr Russell and some local volunteers and hope that lots of you will have fun seeking out all 20 of the Perch Benches and identifying the wildlife pictures sited beneath them all by Andy and Scott. (We also took the opportunity to give the benches a spruce up for the summer).
At the end of the summer those who have submitted their findings via our website, will be collated and the names of those who completed all 20 (or nearest) will be put into a hat for deciding the overall winner who will then receive a £25 voucher of their choice.
Cllr Russell will shortly be standing down due to the re-organisation of the District Councils and we thank him most sincerely for all the support and encouragement he has given the Friends since its inception. We wish him well in his retirement.
Our thanks to Lin who has designed a leaflet to promote the Friends, briefly outlining our aims and the benefits of the woodlands. Photo’s taken by Andy have been incorporated, along with a map of the area on the reverse. We hope to distribute them in local Tourist Information and Community sites when printing is completed and hope you will look out for them and help us spread the word to those who may not yet be aware.
Much work has been done to the lower lying pathways and gateways which became waterlogged and we hope that when the rain finally does return, you will notice a marked improvement in all-weather access. Grateful thanks must go to Chris and his friends at Stone Zone in Ferndown for donating such a large quantity of scalpings to allow this work to be carried out.
See picture at the end of this newsletter to see the finished work.
Despite torrential rain on the day, there was a good turnout of stalwart volunteers who braved the difficult conditions to have yet another go at bringing the rampant Himalayan Balsam near the police station, under control. Their efforts over the past few seasons have made a noticeable difference to its invasion, with the pathways being almost free of its stranglehold and new and varied flora and fauna already beginning to flourish. We thank all of you who have made such a difference.
The photo at the top of the newsletter, taken on the 2nd (brighter) day of the balsam pulling features Kevin modeling our newly acquired waders to retrieve some of the more inaccessible weed.
June saw our annual AGM taking place in Stapehill Village Hall with a good turnout of Friends and other interested parties. In accordance with the requirements of our new Charitable Status, Janet ensured that all of the current Trustees were held to re selection and also gave the required opportunities for any new potential Trustees to volunteer. Due to work commitments, Chris stood down as a Trustee but will retain his interest in supporting the Friends and will attend committee meetings as/when in the future. Janet thanked him for all his efforts throughout the entire history of our group.
You can read the minutes and accounts for 2017/18 here .
Andy gave an illustrated talk on the past year’s Work Parties which highlighted just how much has been achieved. He also outlined some future projects being considered by the Trustee’s which we will be delighted to achieve, with hopefully the usual invaluable support from you as volunteers.
As always he urged everyone to keep an eye on our website, notice boards or the ‘What’s On’ section of the local Stour and Avon magazine for details of our Work Parties. Everyone is welcome to come along and lend a hand, or just to have a cuppa and a chat.
AND FINALLY . . .
All in all, it has been a very satisfying and productive season despite the summer months being lower key with well-deserved holidays taking priority and we look forwards to seeing you all in the Autumn when it will hopefully be cooler. The Autumn series of work parties kick off on Sunday 9th September.
Janet – Chair of Friends
Lin – Vice Chair/Secretary