Beaconsfield LAF Project 2019/20

by | Mar 30, 2020 |

With one summer brushcut session to go at Holtspur Bank, Chiltern Rangers have engaged with 128 young people and 28 adult volunteers who contributed 345 hours of volunteering on 3 sites in the Beaconsfield Area. We are grateful for the support of Beaconsfield High School, Butlers Court School, Beaconsfield Beavers, The Friends of Holtspur Bank and Beaconsfield Town Council for their partnership in making this project possible.

Some Highlights:

At Holtspur Bank:

The chainsaws came out to do some vital coppicing for the managing of the 900 square metres of the woodland with a mixed age group of 10 volunteers coming out to continue coppicing and help manage the scrub and chalk grassland. We aim to be back to brushcut dog wood regeneration on the very special chalk grassland with more local people supporting the work of the Friends of Holtspur Bank.

At Walkwood:

Students from Beaconsfield High and Butlers Court joined forces with Chiltern Rangers volunteers to cut and chip invasive non-native laurel at Walkwood. It was great to see the enthusiasm and hard work of the 23 volunteers. Only half a class of year 5s were able to attend at this event and it was lovely to hear how keen the class teacher was to book the rest of the class to come out with Chiltern Rangers when a suitable opportunity comes up.

See photos below at Beaconsfield High Pond, BBC and Beyond:

Through this project, we have had the time to develop a close partnership with Beaconsfield High School.

This was in response to one of their pupils who got to know us on one of our National Citizenship Service Summer Projects and wrote to us asking if we could help restore their jungle of a school pond. This lead to numerous site visits with students and staff, a presentation to the sixth form and two sessions restoring the pond with over 100 students, staff, governors, parents and Chiltern Rangers volunteers making huge improvements to the pond habitat.

Click on the film link to see everybody in action! 

This has also led to a regular Wednesday 6th Form volunteer team coming out in our Heart of Bucks funded Community Minibus to volunteer on our Wycombe District Council funded Kingsmead Enhancement Project. The team have been involved in a wide range of conservation activities from coppicing, hedgerow planting, chip spreading and dead hedge building. Radio 4’s Open Country came to visit and interviewed some of the students about their experience and learning. The link can be found in the page below:  

Paul Stack, Community Projects Manager 

See testimonial from one of the Beaconsfield High Wednesday volunteers below

Dear Mrs Ing,

I just wanted to thank you, on behalf of everyone who has signed up to volunteer with Chiltern Rangers in Period 5 on Wednesdays. As you know, we had our first session this Wednesday before breaking up for half-term and each one of us really enjoyed it. It was a totally different experience to anything we have done in school, and some of us would never have had the opportunity to get involved in something like this if it weren’t for the school. 

We were allowed to use proper tools taking on big tasks like cutting down trees for conservation. Some of the other girls I talked to said it felt amazing to be given such important tasks to do and not have to be supervised the whole time, it made us feel independent and when we hit a problem we felt encouraged to talk about it and find a solution between ourselves. I think we can all say that our critical thinking and teamwork skills have improved a lot and will hopefully continue to improve in the upcoming sessions.

The site we worked on was a rare chalk stream, we were told there are not many of them around in the world anymore, just knowing this made any contribution we made feel so much more important. By the end of the two hours, we could see a significant difference in the area. To me, the thought that I could do something like this, which will affect so many organisms in a positive way, was a powerful reminder that we are all useful and it felt very rewarding. 

One empowering thing we all learnt was how strong we actually are – physically and mentally. Some of the work was quite strenuous and, although we could easily choose not to do the more strenuous work, the majority of us did it anyway, pushing both the physical and mental boundaries we have put on ourselves. And I have to mention the tremendous effect working with nature had on our mental health. Even after all the hard work which made us uncomfortably hot and all the times we stung ourselves on stinging nettles, we were all excited and happy as we walked back to get ready to go home.

Again, thank you very much for taking the time and effort to organise this wonderful opportunity for us. We all really appreciate it are looking forward to all the future sessions.

Before ending, I also want to thank you for everything else you do as a head. It seems very stressful to do everything that you do but all your hard work definitely sets Beaconsfield High’s sixth form apart from others. The new addition of the Friday P5 talks are really helpful and I have thoroughly enjoyed each one so far. Thank you!