Saturday, March 26th

We were exceedingly lucky with the weather for our family oriented afternoon event in Poringland.  It was the last day of a 10 day spell of dry, warm weather and it certainly helped to bring out the crowds. It is hard to say just how many people attended as we didn’t keep count but it was probably about 300. The Norfolk Wildlife Trust (NWT)  thought it saw 150 people at its stand.   The turn out made a good impression on our local Councillors several of whom attended from the Poringland and Framingham Earl Parish Councils.

Poringland Parish Council is working with the NWT this year on a series of public engagement activities to be carried out through the year on some of the 30 acres of land it has recently acquired from Norfolk Homes so for our local politicians to see the support for wildlife activities in the community will have done no harm.

A typical comment on social media after the event was that there was a nice balance of activities and things for people and especially children to do.  The NWT brought four members of staff and one volunteer. They were busy the whole afternoon. Meanwhile David Cannon didn’t get a break either making 40 bird nest boxes with the children, ably assisted by Lou, James and Rob Goodson. I had increased the order for kits from 30 but we could have made more it turned out.   As can be seen from one of the photographs there was a lengthy queue. One of the Poringland Councillors told me a week later how happy his children were to go home with a nest box each.

Emily Davy was busy too making bee hotels using bamboo she had grown in her garden while Michael Essinger and Linda Tansley operating the Stop the Lawnmower Game didn’t get much of a rest either. As ever the Lawnmower Game was a popular activity. Linda handed out 49 ‘I saved the flowers’ stickers to the children who succeeded in stopping it before it reached the model wild flowers. Michael emphasised to the parents that it helps wildlife if grass is cut less frequently so that daisies and cat ears for example can flower.

All these activities took place outside on the grass adjacent to the Community Centre and we are grateful to the Parish Council for agreeing to that. Inside the Centre we had displays by SYWG, the Chet Valley B-Line, Forncett Nature Matters, the Berghapton Consersation Trust and Elvie Herd and Peter Webster’s excellent display of moths for which there was a great deal of interest.

The Community Centre also has excellent audio-visual facilities and Rob Goodson made use of them by showing a video he had recently made of the Chet Valley B-Line.   I am grateful too to Carol Sharp for bringing over a display about Forncett because as I said to the Framingham Earl tree wardens I feel Forncett might have a template for other parishes to follow.

Carol and Bernie Webb put together the B-Line’s display and Carol also brought along a number of activity sheets for children. Also there were several sheets from SYWG’s repertoire which I had dug out from storage. I was pleasantly surprised when I walked into the Centre and saw so many children beavering away.

Just a word about why it was decided to hold a family oriented event on an afternoon. We had held three of our recent talks in Poringland and had been disappointed by the attendance of people living in the village. A straw poll of the young families who had moved into the area indicated that it was going to be difficult to get the younger generations to turn out for an evening talk about wildlife. So this activities afternoon was a trial and luckily it was a successful one. One of the older visitors told me he had been surprised to see several people with push chairs so we certainly seemed to have reached out across the generations. This gives us some food for thought.  Carol Webb has recently gained the support of Loddon Parish Council to run a similar afternoon there in the summer.

Finally, I want to thank all the people who helped to make the afternoon such a success. This includes Poringland Primary School’s PTA which did the catering, supplying visitors with tea and coffee and cakes that were hard to resist. A big thank you also needs to go out to the 10 local primary schools, many of which publicised the event in newsletters.

Rodney Aldis