Smithills Update 23rd August 2019
We have just collated volunteer hours data to the end of July, and the Smithills volunteer team have given a whopping 3353 hours of time to the project over that period! This is really amazing and reflects the diverse activity volunteers are doing at Smithills, and the huge commitment the group have to the site and the project.
For comparison, at this point last year the total was 2674 hours, including a whopping 600 hours during the fire.
Volunteer hours contribute to lowering the amount of match-funding we need to raise (our project is 45% funded by the Lottery, and 55% by match-funding we raise ourselves, volunteer hours contribute toward this).
This leads me on to…
Crikey it’s been busy
It’s been an incredibly busy year in terms of volunteering as the hours demonstrate – keeping the public events and volunteering programmes going would have been challenging even with a full team, but as you know we’ve had a short period with some key roles being recruited for… this had unfortunately meant that some groups (in particular the History Group) have not met regularly. Now that we have a full team again, my focus for September is ensuring every volunteer group has relevant meetings in place and that it is clear what each group’s objectives are for the remainder of 2019.
Staff changes also mean that you might have a new volunteer manager for some of your groups!
At the same time as volunteer numbers and activity have been increasing, we have said goodbye to both Russ and Chris, who were volunteer managers for some of the roles here. We now have a full team again, with the addition of Tracey Garrett, Smithills Manager, and Charlotte Atty, Events & Community Coordinator.
What’s been happening since the last update?
The ancient tree hunt continues
A number of volunteers have been out and about measuring trees, on the hunt for our first ancient tree at Smithills. It is fantastic to see that Smithills now has some veteran and notable trees on the Ancient Tree Inventory… you can look up their locations here – https://ati.woodlandtrust.org.uk/ . So far we have a fantastic veteran hawthorn just to the side of the tramway, and a notable sycamore both recorded by Mike; a second veteran hawthorn near to this recorded by Sheila; a veteran rowan recorded by Rob; a notable hawthorn, two notable beeches and veteran goat willow recorded by Richard – plus more trees noted by the group outside of the Estate, at the Hall and in Horwich. Brilliant work all round!
Who will find the first ancient tree…? Watch this space!
L-R – the veteran hawthorn recorded by Mike near the tramway; Bev out tree recording; Rob’s veteran rowan at Walker Fold
Anne, Liz and Clive have been volunteering at the weekly Nature Detectives sessions at Smithills Hall, which last week involved creating beautiful butterfly feeders and this week making bug hotels. It’s been lots of fun and hopefully encouraging young people to think about wildlife in their gardens!
Walk and Talk
Dave F helped out at our first Walk & Talk this week – jointly run with the Council of Mosques, the idea behind the Walk & Talk is to provide a chance to visit the Estate to people who might not have done so before, either because getting there was difficult (we provided transport); because of not having anyone to go with (we had lots of staff to welcome and chat to those who came), or because of an issue such as anxiety (we had counsellors if people wished to speak about worries, and we are getting referrals to the walk from health practitioners and key workers). We had a great turn out for the first walk – 30 people in total – with staff from the Council of Mosques, the Interfaith Council, Bolton Christian Community Cohesion and Bolton City of Sanctuary coming along and talking with attendees. It was also great to see all ages present, with children and older people chatting away along the route. A particular highlight for me was the excitement on the faces of two of the children who attended when they saw the newly planted trees at Walker Fold – ‘there’s the trees we planted!’ – and a comment that one attendee had lived in Bolton for years but had no idea such a wonderful place existed.
The next walk will be on 1 October.
John Lamb from Lancashire Wildlife Trust led a training session for members of the Wildlife Group as part of the grassland and heathland training, a good day had by all.
Riverfly and meadow surveys
Rob B led a morning of surveying with the wildlife volunteers, looking at riverflies and the meadow at the top of the 63 steps – lots of useful data is coming from our monitoring work, and we will be working with Greater Manchester Ecology Unit to bring this data together and demonstrate the value of our conservation work on the Estate. We will of course keep you updated on this! For now, here’s a peek at what a riverfly survey involves…our group took river samples and identified species found, the presence (or absence) of which gives us information about the health of the river.
L-R Rob showing the group the survey methodology to be used; Volunteers (and Vicky) looking for riverflies and other species in the river sample; one of the species found (mayfly larvae)
Guided walk leaders – Tony is leading a walk on Wed 28th August. Do any of the Guided Walk Leaders (i.e. anyone who attended the training earlier this year at Smithills) have availability to act as back marker…?
Rivington Music Fest – If anyone would like to assist at the stall at this event on 31st Aug, please let Charlotte know – firstname.lastname@example.org.
Engaging Communities Officer – Smithills Estate