A combination of Santa hats, tools and community spirit were brought out in bucket loads for the Rusland Horizons Big Christmas Bash this December. The event was part Christmas celebration and part conservation work party and brought together people of all ages and abilities from the scheme area. Working in groups, everyone had a go at making improvements to the local landscape. The tasks all came from requests from the community – to improve inaccessible footpaths, build a bridge over a beck, fix some wall gaps in a field and coppice a small woodland. The groups all had a very productive day whilst having lots of fun! In total they coppiced 250 square meters of woodland, built 5 metres of stone wall, improved nearly four km of footpath and built one ‘Big Bash Bridge’.
Colin Barr, Chair of Rusland Horizons said: “It was great that we could respond to ideas from the local residents and carry out work that was really needed on the ground. It was immensely enjoyable and generated a great feeling of empowerment”
Miles Dickenson, a local landowner said: “An extra pair of hands was grand as owt. Thanks to everyone who helped clear the path. You can come again anytime! ”
The fun didn’t stop there though. Just before dusk everyone headed to the Manor House at Oxen Park for mulled wine and hot stew and a bit of relaxing with friends.
Clare Dyson, Community Engagement Officer for Rusland Horizons said: “We thought that everyone would have a good feeling of achievement and have fun on the conservation tasks and then what could be better than a friendly pub and delicious food as a reward at the end? There was a really good atmosphere amongst us all at the end of the day”
Mary Fletcher from Oxen Park said: “"We all had a great time out in the woods in the beautiful Rusland Valley. Tom and Felix (aged 7 and 5) got a real sense of achievement from helping to clear the path, and loved learning about the wildlife and local history along the way. Having a group of volunteers of all ages working together gave us a wonderful sense of community."
Conservation work parties are planned with Rusland Horizons throughout the year. To find out more or attend a taster day just go to the ‘What’s on’ page at www.ruslandhorizons.org.uk.