Celebrating the Great Outdoors

Ladies birdwatching c. Anne Brenchley

Yesterday we marked the grand finale of Cheshire Wildlife Trust’s Great Outdoors Malpas project. To mark the project’s achievements a special celebration event was held at the Trust’s headquarters at Bickley Hall Farm, Malpas, Cheshire for all participants.

The year-long project has seen over 100 people aged over 50 take part in an exciting range of activities to help them engage with their community, develop new hobbies, and build new friendships.

Participants have cruised on a canal barge observing wildlife along the way; learnt how to take interesting wildlife photographs; taken part in wildlife walks; and have created a whole host of exciting art projects using natural materials. Other highlights involved learning about bee-keeping at Bickley and the ecology of the mosslands around Delamere.

Making an art hanging c. Claire Huxley

Making an art hanging c. Claire Huxley

The project which was funded through Brightlife, a partnership led by Age UK Cheshire, had the aim of countering social isolation in the older generation and re-engaging these individuals with Cheshire’s beautiful wildlife. “All the activities were aimed at getting this group of people more involved in their community,” said Anne Brenchley, Community Engagement Officer, at Cheshire Wildlife Trust. “Everyone has thoroughly enjoyed the activities. In fact many of the activities have led to new groups being formed to carry on the pursuits of bird-watching and bee-keeping.”

As a whole, the participants have walked 455 miles, identified 95 different bird species, taken part in 13 different activities and have produced 13 jars of honey. “It just goes to show that you are never too old to connect with nature and make new friends!” commented Anne Brenchley.

The activities didn’t stop, as during the celebration event itself participants were involved in a wildlife walk around the farm, as well as having opportunities to get creative making 3D hangings, bookmarks and flowers out of wood.

Clayhole Croft, Malpas

Clayhole Croft, Malpas

Another permanent achievement from this project is that Clayhole Croft, a small piece of parish owned land in Malpas, was transformed by a dedicated group of volunteers inspired by this project. This once dark, uninviting and forgotten place, is now back to its full glory. With a view over surrounding farmland, the overgrown hedge was rejuvenated and new benches were put in to make this area a comfortable resting place for all to enjoy. Non-native plants were removed and replaced with native plantlife which will support local wildlife. The group were provided were training by Cheshire Wildlife Trust in how to maintain the area including how to safely use tools which has enabled them to be self-sufficient into the future.

Participant, Anne Walker, from Malpas, joined the project when it first started a year ago. “I’ve really enjoyed the creative activities; it has been lovely to be able to get involved with hands-on art projects and meet like-minded people,” she said. “It has been a fabulous experience – I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.”

Cheshire Wildlife Trust runs year-round volunteering opportunitiesand also holds wildlife themed events throughout the year.