We are thrilled to have taken delivery of our new A4 trifold colour leaflet. Our grateful thanks to Surrey County Council and Guildford College for their practical and financial help in producing such a professional guide to our wildlife area.
Latest news from the Wildlife Area is very positive. Just as we thought that we would be having a quieter year, along came an opportunity to apply for a grant from Living Spaces to begin work on the only neglected part of the site, the woodland adjacent to the Wildflower Meadow. The application required some quite detailed work and we are very grateful to Paul Wickham, Director of the Surrey Wildlife Trust, for his help and advice. £4,500 has enabled us to construct a proper access across the bank into the woodland, to remove 50% of the trees and scrub and make the beginnings of a delightfully meandering path which completes the circle back to the main spinal path. Our expert committee member from Merrist Wood has already observed that there is more birdsong to be heard in the woodland. As for new sproutings of different plant life and new activity of small mammals, we will see what the next year brings. At the same end of the site, we continue to be very grateful to Pirbright Parish Council who have added the seasonal mowing of the Wildflower Meadow to their paths and greens contract. This sort of financial help is always particularly welcome - maintenance funding is almost impossible to get from elsewhere.
On the publicity front, we are now very near to producing an A4 trifold colour leaflet with the aid of grants from Parish, Borough and County Councils which is very exciting. Gordon Jackson has generously offered to let us use his business in-house printing unit once we have a final leaflet design. David Greenland has designed a new logo and our Secretary, Carolyn, has attended a website design course to get the skills needed to update our website on a regular basis. The new Principal of Guildford College, of which Merrist Wood is now part, has recently visited the Wildlife Area and was hugely impressed - so much that he has promised to let us use any College skills and services which could be of help. So the Association's partnerships continue to flourish!
This time last year, we were hugely encouraged to receive donations of all sizes from association members, the vast majority of which was gift-aided which added 28% to funds through tax reclamation. Running a Wildlife Area of 14 acres requires some funding in addition to the work done by the Committee and our wonderful volunteers. Our public liability insurance cover, for example, has quadrupled in the last 2 years and the Committee has decided that it would be prudent to begin to set aside a contingency fund for unexpected capital expenses. Needless to say, your continued support and generosity will be much appreciated.
Good news for the Association included the designation of the wildlife area as a local nature reserve. This means that the value of the site has been officially recognised by English Nature. David Bellamy was certainly very impressed with all that has been achieved when he visited the site. He was allocated approximately half an hour on site by his ‘team', but was in fact still talking enthusiastically nearly an hour and a half later!