A WILDLIFE trust marked the grand finale of a special project with a celebration event.
The event was held at Cheshire Wildlife Trust’s Bickley Hall Farm, Malpas, and marked the end of their great outdoors scheme.
The year-long project has seen more than 100 people aged over 50 take part in an exciting range of activities to help them engage with their community, develop new hobbies, and build new friendships.
Participants have cruised on a canal barge observing wildlife along the way; learnt how to take interesting wildlife photographs; taken part in wildlife walks; and have created a whole host of exciting art projects using natural materials. Other highlights involved learning about beekeeping at Bickley and the ecology of the mosslands around Delamere.
The project, which was funded through Brightlife, a partnership led by Age UK Cheshire, had the aim of countering social isolation in the older generation and re-engaging these individuals with Cheshire’s beautiful wildlife. “All the activities were aimed at getting this group of people more involved in their community,” said Anne Brenchley, community engagement officer, at Cheshire Wildlife Trust.
“Everyone has thoroughly enjoyed the activities. In fact many of the activities have led to new groups being formed to carry on the pursuits of birdwatching and beekeeping.”
As a whole, the participants have walked 455 miles, identified 95 different bird species, taken part in 13 different activities and have produced 13 jars of honey. Anne added: “It just goes to show that you are never too old to connect with nature and make new friends!”
The activities didn’t stop, as during the celebration event itself participants were involved in a wildlife walk around the farm, as well as having opportunities to get creative making 3D hangings, bookmarks and flowers out of wood.
Another permanent achievement from this project is that Clayhole Croft, a small piece of parish-owned land in Malpas, was transformed by a dedicated group of volunteers inspired by this project.
This once dark, uninviting and forgotten place, is now back to its full glory.
With a view over surrounding farmland, the overgrown hedge was rejuvenated and new benches were put in to make this area a comfortable resting place for all to enjoy. Non-native plants were removed and replaced with native plantlife which will support local wildlife. The group were provided with training from Cheshire Wildlife Trust in how to maintain the area including how to safely use tools which has enabled them to be self-sufficient into the future.
Participant, Anne Walker, from Malpas, joined the project when it first started a year ago. She said: “I’ve really enjoyed the creative activities; it has been lovely to be able to get involved with hands-on art projects and meet like-minded people.
“It has been a fabulous experience, I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.”
Cheshire Wildlife Trust runs year-round volunteering opportunities and also holds wildlife themed events throughout the year, visit www.cheshirewildlifetrust.org.uk to find out more.
See full story in the Chester Leader