We’ve mostly been at Fosseway since October as the time pressure for completing the Postcode Local Trust funded project requires much preparatory work. It’s been a time of commendable joint working between “the heavy brigade” of diggers, dumpers, concrete and brick work and the supposedly (ha!) gentler work of Grounds/Green. The “retirement” from paid work by “The Staffords” has resulted in even more work there: Roger and Jean are four handedly completing the brick work for the board walks started by the WRGies and Paul Haddock’s work party. As befitting my reputation as the Trust’s pyromaniac, it’s involved quite a few fires as we burn up the vegetation that’s had to be cleared.
We’ve had a few forays to Summerhill, too, where we’ve complemented the construction work so productively done by Paul Reeves’s work party by trying to lay the ancient hawthorns near the Sand Wharf. They’ve not been very cooperative, but even so, with some infill planting we’ll have a good boundary hedge in time. In all this, we’ve been valuably assisted by two youth groups.
Firstly, we had another day’s work by National Citizenship Service youngsters from the Tamworth and Lichfield areas at Fosseway: they cut, dragged, chopped up gorse and branches and helped get them burned. Secondly, we’ve had the superb help every Tuesday morning of the Queen’s Croft students. We had a donation of a lorry load of bricks to Fosseway: approximately 15 tons of variously whole, broken and seconds. I’d no idea that bricks came in such a variety of shapes and sizes! In three mornings our stalwart Queen’s Croft volunteers have sorted ¾ of the massive heap into a number of neat stacks. Working with them, I’m always impressed by their teamwork, their hard work, and their care for each other. They’ve also planted salvaged crocuses at Tamworth Road, and we hope that this year they’ll come into flower.
To me, Queen’s Croft students are absolute stars, and I thank them for the invaluable work they do for us which would be such a diversion for our regular volunteers. From the young to the not so young! Founder of the Green Team, Mike Battison, has recently taken a walk at Darnford Moors (let’s acknowledge his regular walk, and litter pick, at Borrowcop Locks Canal Park – thank you, Mike). He’s recently reported that the Christmas Tree replanted there by Bobbie approximately 17 years ago is now 20ft tall and 10ft across and the walnut trees planted near the Lift Bridge around that time are doing well, too. (I’m off there next Summer in search of walnuts for pickling – if the squirrels, and any other lovers of pickled walnuts, haven’t got there first!).
Finally, we had a really exciting visit by Staffordshire Wildlife Trust’s (SWT’s) Wetlands Expert, Nick Mott and our very own expert Ecologist, David Haslam, to Fosseway recently to seek their advice on creating the Fosseway Heath Nature Reserve and Wetlands. Their advice is superb; their enthusiasm for our plans is immensely reassuring and we thank them hugely for their time and expertise. That Peter and Lin Norbury from the Lichfield Branch of SWT came, too, and added to the enthusiasm is even more gratifying. Let’s not hold out false hope, but Nick suggested that in a few years’ time we might have a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). So, my passion for the “green corridor” of canals has become even more passionate!
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