Fox Corner Community Wildlife Area | Fox Corner | Guildford | Surrey | UK

11th April 2023 - Chairman's Report

A v warm welcome to you all to our AGM

as we move into our 4th decade as an Association. Less than 2O years until our 50 year lease from GBC expires which is quite a thought! Whatever else happens, we hope the Wildlife Area will continue to be a secure and beautiful backdrop to the residents of Fox Corner. Some of us can still remember enduring many years of planning uncertainty at the heart of this’ community.’

After coming through the restrictions of Covid, it has been a year of consolidation and good maintenance work as well as replacing our site interpretation boards at both entrances and also the pond interpretation. Board. The original ones had gradually became damaged and spoilt by water ingress. We were delighted to find an excellent contractor who has created boards which should last a lot longer. We give huge thanks to Heather Coverly for her work in achieving this excellent end result and to Roy Coverly for making the strong and good-looking supports.

Less happily, we also made an in-depth survey of the pond and wetlands boardwalk. You will all know that this is a key part of the Wildlife Area and its importance cannot be understated. The Wildlife Area has the natural benefit of two significant waterways flowing through it - the Stamford Brook and the Hodge Brook - and the pond, dipping platform and boardwalk are strategically positioned in the extensive wetland area between the brooks. The brooks and wetlands are arguably the wildlife area‘s greatest natural assets. The boardwalk provides inviting and safe access to enable visitors to enjoy the pond area and from there, an interesting and varied circular walk via the brooks. This was last reviewed and significantly revamped 11 years ago. The survey revealed that where recycled composite materials were used in the structure these are lasting very well but the timber beams and treads have again reached the end of their useful life.

You will also know that we have launched a substantial appeal to fund replacements in the same long lasting but v expensive materials. Our target is £28,000 and as always, we have the best team to spread the word led by Peter Morley, our fundraising officer and Heather Coverly our PR officer. We have targeted both large and small donors so that everyone can feel involved. Starting with our annual newsletter to members we then sent round an appeal flier to every house in Pirbright in the March Perinews. This has also been delivered to local residents in Bagshot Rd and Perry Hill. Peter Morley has been doing sterling work in making applications to bigger funders like the National Lottery Community Fund, Your Fund Surrey and Community Fund Surrey.We are so grateful for his persistence and expertise and we do not underestimate the amount of work needed! I have printed out a few of the testimonial sheets which have been required by large funders – it is v heartwarming! Our first major grant has been £9,990 from the Lottery Fund and last week our appeal total stood at £20,606 which is v encouraging.

Apart from this ’big ticket' item, we are, as ever, indebted to our site manager Nigel Emmerson who keeps a sharp eye on all aspects of the Wildlife Area and organises Management Committee members plus his wonderful team of volunteers from Network Rail to undertake a myriad of essential maintenance tasks on their charity days including keeping the green path network mown and ready for our many visitors. We are also very grateful for the support we continue to receive from the Pirbright Institute on designated working days/projects. As a v small charity trying to fight above its weight with 14 acres to manage, our small team of volunteers with limited financial resources really couldn’t achieve all we do without our partnerships. And apart from organising volunteers, I would also like to particularly thank Nigel Emmerson who quietly and v efficiently does a whole host of other jobs, often with John Shawyer and Roy Coverly alongside. Thank you Nigel, John and Roy!

One huge dark cloud has, however, hovered over this last year when our much-loved Julie Emmerson died from a sudden illness shortly after the AGM. The Management Committee members have been devastated by her loss. Not only was she a most efficient Treasurer, she was also a mine of information on environmental and wildlife issues and had a great dry sense of humour. It was a delightful 'first’ on the Management Committee a few years ago when she and Nigel announced that they had got married. We are planning to remember her in some special way in the Wildlife Area which she loved so much and supported in very practical ways. She would have been v glad to know that we have managed to find another local enthusiast, Bruce Acton, to be our Treasurer.

Lastly but very importantly, we are always on the lookout for the wildlife which visit the Wildlife area. The Management Committee would like to encourage all our members to join our "Wildlife Watch" to tell us what you have spotted on your visits. Email us via the website - or tell a committee member. Best of all, please send us photos for the website.

I end by expressing my heartfelt thanks to the wonderful and hardworking members of the Management Committee kept in order by our Secretary, Barbara Carr, who also organises our membership deliveries. ” In addition, we still enjoy the skills of Carolyn and Chris Guest who look after our website from Dorset. This great enthusiasm and teamwork continues to make your community wildlife area a delightful place to visit and an asset on your doorstep.

A very big thank you is also due to all our members who are so supportive in their v generous donations and v supportive comments which all help to encourage us and keep us going. Long may it continue!

Catherine Cobley
April 2023