Chairman’s Message taken from the 2018 AGM

Below are the notes that Chairman Tim Barnes used in the October 2018 AGM message to members of the woodland.

“This has been a year of consolidation, and there have been no startling new developments. That is as it should be. The woodlands do not need constant new initiatives but needs to progress the task of maintaining and improving the woods.

This we have done, and I want to mention a few of the actions.  The tree nursery has been set up with the support of children from Halstow School.  I will say more about these links when I come to the Greenwich Growth Fund application which the Friends Of Westcombe Woodlands is about to lodge.

Events

We had our annual Bluebell Open Day on the 29th April when despite bad weather some 60 or 70 people visited the woodlands, including a number of residents from Seren Park, the development next to the woods.  On 17th June there was the annual Summer picnic and 5 days later the “Bat Walk”.  The Summer party and the bat evening are now regular features in the calendar.  On the 7th October there was our Autumn Open Day, which is part of the Greenwich Perfoms Festival whose aim is to seek to bring back some of the excitement and variety of events which characterised the old Greenwich Festival.

Communications

We are up-dating our web-site with the help of Chris Bates and we have established a Twitter feed and a Facebook account. One of our twice year newsletters are published, in the spring and another will be published by the end of the year.  We have decided to print 1,000 Christmas cards this year with the name of The Friends of Westcombe Woodlands on them, and we hope that you will buy cards which will spread the name of the Woodlands and the Friends.

Financial

Our principal items of expenditure are the costs of insurance and the cost of tree work, the need for which is assessed by experts on an annual basis.  Our accounts were submitted to the Charity Commission in time and I will leave to committee member Miriam Hier to speak further to the audience in her treasurer’s report.

Work in the Woodlands

We now have a wooden bee keeper’s hut alongside the 3 hives. This was largely the work of Andrew Slade, who is the official keeper of the Westcombe bees.  We have now built a back path from the glade down to the top of the step, and planted bulbs, primarily native bluebells in patches along the path. The Oak grove is also coming into its own.  The oak saplings have become established and have again been underplanted with bulbs. The oak grove is on the left as you walk towards the glade from the top of the steps.

The volunteer days continue to be held on a monthly basis and involved the normal tasks such as removing thousands of self-seeding sycamores, cutting back brambles and keeping the vegetation around the pond under control so that events such as pond dipping can take place on the open days.

The Lasseter Place end of the woodlands has been primarily cared for by some of our most supportive friends, Clive Corlett and his wife.  We are having our December volunteer day at Lasseter Place to carry out some Autumn maintenance.  It is still lour hope at some point in the future to have some kind of seat or hide at the look-out point at the end of the Lasseter Place path where it looks out over the steep slope of the woods.

Schools involvement

The Committee of the Friends has been keen for some time to enter into some arrangement with a local school or schools which would give children exposure to the woodlands and the opportunity of learning about nature in a beautiful environment.  As I have said, we had a visit from children of Halstow School in the Spring and another visit in the autumn.  We are fortunate in having on our committee Rich Sylvester and Ruth Crackell, both of who have experience of this kind of activity.  They have agreed to lead a project which they have put together with the support of the Friends’ Committee.

This will be the subject of an application to the Greenwich Growth Fund which provided grants of not less than £5000 to local initiatives which have the support of the 3 ward councillors and fulfil some of the criteria which underpin the scheme.  Our proposal should have the effect of improving air quality along the heavily polluted Trafalgar Road in that it is our hope to plant the saplings which will have been grown from seed in the nursery.  The children will attend the woodlands several times a year and will be educated in the planting and cultivation of trees from seed.  We have the support of the 3 ward councillors and the Peter Harris Trust, of which I am a trustee, and which supports local charities and has also agreed to contribute

Committee and volunteers

The Friends could not exist without the support of its committee members and the volunteers and I want to take this opportunity of thanking them for all that they do.  I think that those who come on out monthly volunteer morning enjoy the experience.  It is a happy combination of working in a beautiful space, exchanging gossip as we do so and enjoying elevenses, still provided by Frank Smith, although sadly he is no longer on our committee.  I am delighted that all members of the committee are prepared to continue in office subject to the proper formalities in the coming year.

Ambitions for the coming year.

I would like to see a significant increase in membership of the friends.  You who are here tonight will hopefully be ambassadors spreading the word that to be a member of the friends does not break the bank and gives you the opportunity of being involved with a unique space which is steadily getting better while not forfeiting its essentially wild atmosphere.

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