Spotlight on…Tim Kirwin, Group Leader, Frodsham and Runcorn Sites groups
In this the next in our series of spotlight articles, we are delighted to introduce Tim Kirwin , Group Leader (Frodsham and Runcorn sites).
Tim, who runs his own organisation called Wilder Things, is contracted by the Trust to lead several practical conservation groups in what’s known locally as ‘Cheshire Dairy Country’. But there are plenty of woodlands too, in among those Cheshire Cheese cows, and Tim – who used to be the Site Manager for this area – knows a thing or two about the requirements for conserving and developing them.
Before the pandemic hit, Tim was involved with Trust in community tree-planting schemes and has planted over 50,000 trees with a variety of people including school children, and employees from a range of private companies. He also leads community based groups with various physical and/or mental health issues in practical woodland conservation tasks.
“I’m pleased to say some of the local groups are now starting up again,” Tim told me. “We’ll be felling some small trees as part of the coppicing programme for Woodhouse and Snidley Woods. Paying attention to covid precautions as well as the usual health and safety, of course.”
“People can sometimes think it strange to be taking trees down, as well as planting them, but coppicing and clearing strategies make a more natural wood, and some thinning out is beneficial. Other tasks include taking tubes off growing saplings, or in some longer established woodlands, removing old fencing to enable wildlife to more more freely. There’s always plenty to do!”
Tim spoke warmly of the willingness and skills of the people in his practical conservation groups who he said were willing to be outdoors in all weathers. Tim runs an environmental therapy group too who can sometimes find it challenging to be outdoors, but he added that with some support and gentle persuasion, group members could often be encouraged to stay a little longer even if weather conditions weren’t ideal, or they were not feeling great, for example. And he loves it that many of his volunteers, whatever their current situation, are happy to try out new tasks.
Although Tim wanted to talk more about the achievements of his volunteer groups – especially those with special needs, and no previous outdoor experience – I was keen to hear about his nature favourites.
For his tree, Tim chose the silver birch.
“Although it has beauty every season, for me it shouts the arrival of spring,” he explained. “And it’s a pioneer… it’ll grow anywhere – it just goes for it! Though the oak is a close second, if only for the age they can reach.”
But Tim’s big nature passion is bird watching. Even just local bird watching. He spoke about managing his large garden for wildlife, and how different bird species just seem to arrive… we talked about ‘ordinary’ garden birds, and how, even beyond the garden, you don’t necessarily have to go somewhere special to bird-watch. Tim gave me a heads-up about a certain car park being the best place to see ring ouzel: which is my ‘bogey bird’, so a piece of advice I may well be following.
Tim’s other nature joy – a new activity for him – is again garden related: he’s recently set up a remote camera, and among the rats, pigeons and squirrels (and a ferret escapee), he’s managed to capture a woodmouse. Big game indeed.
We ended our conversation with me being lucky enough to get an invitation to experience one of Tim’s restarting community groups with ‘Wilder Things’, with perhaps some bird watching afterwards.
Thanks Tim: now, where’s that car park?
Daphne Pleace – Volunteer Whittle Reporter