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Picture of Conservation Area

Downham Parish Conservation Group

Working for and with the Parish Council

Date of next meeting

7:30 Wednesday 26th February.

Meeting minutes for 27th November 2019

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The walks leaflet for the conservation area is available here.
Click on the image to download the full size version.

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Chairman: Richard Maxey
Secretary: Jean Gallyer
Treasurer: Alan Witts
Works Co-ordinator: Keith Norton and John Bennett
Log Book: Jean Gallyer and Keith Norton
Grant Applications: Avril Hayter Smith
Parish Magazine: Tony Payne
Public Relations and School liaison: Jean Gallyer, Denice Maxey and Sarah Hobbs
Social media: Tim James and Tony Payne Bees: Neil Hobbs
Recruitment: All group members

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Recent Activities of the Conservation Group

This is a group of volunteers which exists to encourage conservation efforts in the Parish. The main focus is on the maintenance and improvement of the Community Orchard and the Local Nature Reserve.

Many of the volunteers in the current team have been involved since the early days of the creation of the reserve, the planting of the orchard and Pingle Wood and the building of the cart shed.

We owe these members a great deal. Not many villages have such a brilliant leisure facility for walking, picnicking and general contemplation of nature on their doorstep. Everyone in the area appreciates this and visitors from quite a distance comment favourably on it.

At the other end of the age spectrum are two youngsters who have been volunteering with us as part of the Duke of Edinburgh’s award scheme. We’re immensely grateful for their efforts. Their latest contribution has been the new colour leaflet with a map and guide to the Orchard and Nature Reserve, but they haven’t been afraid to get their hands dirty doing manual work too!

We are striving to improve the Local Nature Reserve still further. Last spring, we sowed a wild flower area near the cart shed, and we had a fantastic display in the summer. We hope that these flowers have self-seeded and we shall have similar results this year.

Recently we have begun work on opening up Martin’s pond (in the corner of Myles’ Meadow). In the spring of 2020 we shall build a viewing area and hide so that visitors can look out over the newly cleared pond and see a variety of waterfowl.

In March 2020 we are expecting (thanks to the Woodland Trust) a delivery of tree saplings which we shall use mainly to fill in gaps in the hedges around the Holts Meadow. We shall be asking for help with this planting programme – so we shall be contacting the Little Downham Feoffees Academy and various local groups to ask for volunteers.

Other work continues in the background. Thanks to Neil Hobbs, we have some new beehives; and although one of the colonies was destroyed by an invasion of wasps we expect to populate all three hives again in the spring.

Allison England has been busy again, making Downham Conserves from the fruit of the orchard plus wild berries and some special secret ingredients. These are for sale at the Book Café, as is Neil’s honey.

We’ve created an Orienteering trail for use by the local school and the Guides and Brownies. We hope this will be in use in 2020 but we are having some problems with vandalism.

We have meetings in most months. Please see the Parish Magazine for details.

The next scheduled one is on 26th February 2020 and the 25th March meeting is our AGM. At the AGM we shall have a speaker.

For most of the year we meet monthly, with business meetings alternating with either a visiting speaker or an excursion. In the last couple of years we have visited the Denver Complex and the Wissington sugar beet factory. We have had talks on Antarctica, Norway, mosses and liverworts, amphibians, poisonous plants, and the story of a family who lived at Wicken Fen.

Anyone in the Parish is welcome to join us for these meetings or for our work parties, which are usually on the first Saturday of the month at 10 am.

And above all, please make the most of this fantastic natural haven, and respect it. It’s there for you and for future generations.

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For more information please contact the chairman Richard Maxie: richard.maxey@cantab.net