Queen’s award for Croydon conservation volunteers

FCHW at Buckingham Palace. Photo: FCHW

Maria Gatland and other members of the conservation group at Buckingham Palace. Photo: FCHW

A volunteer group that looks after one of Croydon’s biological sites is due to be recognised with the Queens Award for Voluntary Service.

The Friends of Croham Hurst Woods, who have been taking care of Croydon’s woodland site, will be presented with the award for outstanding service to the community. The Queen’s Award is the equivalent for groups of an MBE for an individual.

Councillor Maria Gatland said:” We won for a number of reasons not least for the major regeneration projects we have undertaken over 11 years”.

Members of the volunteering group spend at least one day a month doing conservation work in the 35 hectares of Croham Hurst Woods.

Since 2002 they have been clearing scrub and recreating meadows, along with shorter projects such as designing information boards and erecting benches.

Gatland added: “Part of the reason we won the award is the number and scope of our regeneration projects from removing two hectares of invasive holly in partnership with the Council to the removal of over thirty years of scrub from the bank on Upper Selsdon road to my favourite project the recreation of the meadow shown on old maps. Once again we will be contributing to funding the removal of more invasive holly this autumn.

This project will be managed by the Council through its forestry advisor and will be funded by a Forestry Commission grant. I really don’t think there can be any doubt about the benefits of this work as the light and warmth has brought regeneration to Croham Hurst Woods.”

Some of the friends have already been to a garden party at Buckingham Palace, but the official award will be presented by a representative of the Queen at their annual meeting on November 12.

Gatland said: “We were all delighted and it gives us fresh enthusiasm to continue our work. Croham Hurst Woods is such a special place in every way, a Site of Special Scientific Interest and of national importance. As a local community we are very lucky to have this wonderful ancient woodland on our doorstep. Let’s do all we can to care for it.”

The group, currently made of 150 households, always welcomes new volunteers.

The next annual meeting will take place at 7.30pm on November 12 at Emmanuel Church Hall, Rockhampton Road.

For more information and to join the project visit their website.

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