As I write, we have just come to the end of another very cold snap after a protracted period of heavy rains. This week we received photos from a very enthusiastic visitor who had witnessed the flooding of the Stanford Brook – a rare occurrence but one that reminds us of the extremes in our climate which are so hard to predict but keep us on our toes!
Happily, we have had a positive year in the Wildlife Area as we emerged into a more ‘normal’ life after the challenges of Covid. We hope that the very many visitors who sought sanctuary and pleasure by visiting us will have been back to visit us... 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 become damaged and spoilt by water ingress. We were delighted to find an excellent contractor who has created boards which should be much more weather proof. 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 have also made an in-depth survey of the pond and wetlands boardwalk. Members will 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 2 significant waterways flowing through it – the Stanford Brook and the Hodge Brook - and the pond, dipping platform and board walk 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. We are therefore launching a substantial appeal to fund replacements in the same long lasting but expensive materials. Our target is £21,000 and an appeal flier is attached. Our fundraising officer, Peter Morley, is doing sterling work in applying for grants but your help is needed! Please note that we urgently need everyone to register their support for the project to YourFundSurrey where we are seeking a sizeable grant. They need to know how strong local support is. NO SUPPORT, NO GRANT! Please follow the link on the appeal flier and ask family and friends too.
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 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.
One huge dark cloud will, however, hover 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 on the Wildlife Area which she loved so much and supported in very practical ways.
This letter also invites you to renew your membership into 2023. The enclosed membership form shows details of any members listed at your address. As you may recall, our membership arrangements assume that you wish to continue to be a member unless you indicate otherwise. If you wish to discontinue your membership, if the information shown is incorrect or if you wish to add other residents at your address, please make any necessary amendments and send it back to the Secretary at the address shown below. Your membership continues to be free.
Every year, we are very encouraged to receive donations of all sizes from Association members, the vast majority of which is gift-aided which adds a significant amount through tax reclamation @ 25%. Don’t forget that if you are a UK taxpayer, you only need to sign the Gift Aid declaration when sending your donation – we will process the rest. In 2022, you have once again been so generous and we send you a heartfelt thank you! Without your support, the Wildlife Area could not continue to exist at the heart of the Fox Corner community and give pleasure to so many.
You are invited to come to our AGM on Tuesday, 11 April at 7.30pm in the Church Room at St Michael’s Church. Please note earlier time. We do hope you will be able to join us!
With all good wishes and thanks for your support.