Chairman’s Report 2015/6

Text of Chairman’s Report by Richard Warton, Chairman

It has been an interesting first year for me as your new Chairman with the Friends having had a very productive and successful season.

Our membership has steadily increased over the year and now stands at 154    helped by the redesign of our leaflet and better liaison with the press. This, and our new banner flag kindly donated by Melanie, has enabled us to make more people aware of the Friends and the work the volunteers undertake.

We have plans to develop this further with a new web site that John and Melanie are working on in the hope it will modernise the present one, making it more accessible and vibrant and covering wider subjects of interest.

Looking back over the year I recall a successful People of the Heath event in which our stall recruited new members and successfully sold many jars of donated home-made jam.

Early in the spring Robin and Mark, with funds donated by the PTC, undertook the rejuvenation of an old seat on Music Hill. This bench from the old golf course days overlooked the Pond and was dedicated to the memory of John Parnell.

David has continued to be our link with Churcher’s College who generously provided the funds and student workers to construct the important Pond path improvements along Sussex Road. We are most grateful for this support especially as Churcher’s have again offered to provide these funds and volunteers for further improvements this year.

Petersfield Museum’s project People of the Heath finishes next year and we have continued to liaise with them over the process of clearing the chosen barrows they wish to explore, help decide the best time to clear vegetation and supervise the Community Offenders Scheme who do the clearing.

The summer of course has traditionally been the Friends down time with the winter season being when most activity takes place, although both Robin and Alf keep a year round eye on the flora and fauna and report back any particular sightings or concerns. The finding of fresh water Swan Mussels in the pond was exciting and implies the pond is in good heart. As a result of a survey organised by SDNP signs of possible Dormouse activity have been found close the cricket pitch.  There are plans being laid to consult all the organisations that have an interest in the Heath and to draw up a new plan for the future management of this important area.

Our winter work party volunteers have had a very successful season. Earlier in the autumn they cleared birch saplings from the open areas and collected heather seed to sow on bare patches to encourage the heather spread. After Christmas material from the cleared barrows was used to continue the dry hedge along the path beside the stream on the east side of the Heath. This path had become overgrown and is now much appreciated particularly by the residents of Rival Moor Road who now use it regularly. The group also participated in the Queen’s Litter Pick in aid of her 90th Birthday celebrations.

We of course welcome any members who would like to participate on alternate Sundays from September to March just get in touch if you would like to join us.

The Xmas supper at the Plump Duck for volunteers and Ctte members is now a well-established get-together. Thank you to Ian and his crew for making us so welcome.

This summer we plan to do better at bracken control and have laid plans for mechanical cutting and hand scything. The SDNP have offered their volunteer heathland team and a number of our own volunteers, led by Alf, will be hand pulling and cutting the tricky bits amongst the heather patches.

In conclusion I would just like to thank our hard working Ctte and all volunteers and members who together continue to make the Friends a successful organisation. Also thanks to the support and encouragement from PTC and the loan of the Rose Room tonight and the Council Chamber for Ctte meetings.

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Categories: Chairman's Report