by David Feather

Donations power The Friends

On Wednesday mornings in the Nature Reserve you might be hearing some new sounds. The Friends of Southwick Country Park Nature Reserve have moved fully into the 21st century by purchasing battery powered hedge cutters and a brush cutter. We have managed to do this with financial help from Wiltshire Council Central Area Board and some thoughtful and generous donations. On Wednesday of last week, we had the opportunity to meet and thank the local couple who have paid for the training of five volunteers in the use of our new power tools.

Thanks to Katy and Rick

Rick and Katy Gunning, who run Wessex Rural Crafts, Ecology & Arboriculture, were carrying out some work for Wiltshire Council in the reserve when they heard that we volunteers lacked formal training in the use of power tools. Wiltshire Council cannot insure us to use power tools as we do not have the proper qualifications so we were not allowed to use our new tools in the park. Rick and Katy immediately proposed funding to train five of our volunteers, so that we can use the tools in the park and be properly covered by Wiltshire Council’s insurance.

[1] Almost our full complement of volunteers with Katy and Rick – on a nice sunny morning.
[2] The strimmer in use. Clive is under the helmet.

Joan Jones, the Chairman of the Friends, said “ We had managed to get grants from Wiltshire Council and gifts of money from park users but we were struggling to fund the training. Over the Covid restraint period it has been realised that having access to an incredible open space like this, with its wide variety of wildlife, trees and wild flowers is so important to many people’s mental health. I think that if the Friends had not been here then the brambles would have taken over. These modern powered tools will help us do many jobs in a fraction of the time it used to take using hand tools.”

[3]&[4] Qualified Friends using the new power tools in the reserve.

Katy responded that she and Rick were so happy meet the volunteers who were now using the new equipment. She stressed that training in using these tools was so important for safety. “Many people are now buying these battery powered tools who would not have considered petrol fuelled ones, as they regarded them as too dangerous. The electric ones may be quieter, but they can still cause serious injury if not used properly.”

Thank you Katy and Rick; keeping paths open in the reserve is a priority and the ability to safely use these power tools will help us get on top of the brambles.

Header Image: Joan Jones, our Chairman, thanking Katy and Rick Gunning for their very kind gesture of funding the training. The tools are in the foreground.
All photographs taken by members of FoSCP.

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