Annual Report 1 January 2013 - 31st December 2013
Overview

This year has been another success overall for Friends of Northcliffe. Although some areas of activity slowed down due to personal circumstances, others have gathered momentum, most notably the Northcliffe Heritage Project, which you can read more about later.

As ever, we are grateful to the fantastic people and organisations who have helped make this year the success it has been, especially our members, volunteers, event leaders, Committee members, Events committee and the general public who support our events and activities so readily. We also owe thanks to the groups we collaborate with and whose facilities we use, such as Bradford Model Engineering Society (BMES), Northcliffe Environmental Enterprises Team (MEET), Northcliffe Allotments Society {NAS), Shipley Club, Bradford Council and our local Councillors.

Conservation

The conservation work in 2013 has continued to make a positive contribution to the management of the woods thanks to the great commitment of many volunteers.

We have continued with the regular tasks of controlling the spread of Himalayan balsam and beech saplings. Six open sessions were held through the year, attracting 17 volunteers, 5 new to volunteering with FoN, and a total of 37 volunteer sessions worked. In addition we welcomed groups from Woodcraft Folk (33 people) and DWP (12 people) to help with the momentous Himalayan balsam control task.

We have also worked together with the BEES conservation volunteer group on three occasions. In February a gate at the bird feeding area was made, and drainage and feeding points installed. The silt traps at the entrance to the pond were emptied, as was the channel into the pond. A more thorough pond clearance was undertaken in October, and mud and leaf mould removed from the pathways. In November paths in Old Spring Wood were tackled; improving drainage and removing leaf mould. In total 46 'volunteer days' were worked with BEES.

Events

Consistency of the events calendar has been difficult for us this year. Melanie, our Events Officer, had a difficult summer dealing with a family illness and subsequent bereavement, which had an impact on the activities we had planned for the latter part of the year, including fledgling Halloween and Christmas events with BMES. Easter also proved challenging, with us needing to cancel the event due to waterlogged ground.

The year began in January with a very well attended 'Big Garden Birdwatch' event in the bird feeding area, supported by NAS allowing us to use the clubhouse for information and refreshments, and with help from the local branch of the RSPB.

Once the weather improved, and following the disappointment of Easter, things got off to a flying start finally with the Big Lunch. Hundreds of people turned up to a very informal event to eat their picnics in the beautiful surroundings of Northcliffe, enjoying the family race programme, and rides on the miniature railway. It was a thoroughly enjoyable gathering for all that were there.

The Rae Gala was another enormous success, and people were generous with their donations and time on the day to help us raise funds, [more detail needed on stalls, activities, etc]

Hugh and Lisa led another bleary-eyed dawn chorus walk, enormous fun for those brave enough to get out of bed so early. There was also a bat walk, as well as a lantern walk through the woods at Halloween.

Thank you again to all our volunteers on the events committee for helping with the organising of these events. We would also like to thank all our event leaders and generous members, who have donated their time, baking, produce and prizes over the year. You all do a fantastic job.

Bird Feeding Area

This has been in use, since late October 2012, The Big Garden Bird Watch, in association with the local RSPB, was a success in January of this year. Rats became a problem in the autumn, but a few weeks without feeding has stopped them - for now! One new feeder was stolen, so we made the next new squirrel-resistant one 'distressed' before use. Hugh set up a rota of feeders, thanks to those who help with this there is always room for more, so please contact Hugh if you are interested. Joan Newman and Ken Shipley deal with the bulk buying and transport of food.

Developments in 2013 included:

  1. A lower viewing slit

  2. Adjusting the main viewing slit so that there are 2 heights

  3. A table under the feeders has been made and supplied by Guy Barford

  4. BEES have installed a gate, a drain across the area and dug a pond

  5. The council helped reduce mud by putting down two loads of chippings have
    been put down to help with the mud

  6. The plastic food bin was chewed by the squirrels, so this has been replaced by 2
    metal dustbins with metal chains holding the lids in place

Northcliffe Heritage Project

We were impressed by the excellent attendance and enthusiasm at the Open Meeting for the Northcliffe Heritage Project (NHP) on 30 November. There were stimulating presentations from John Mcllwaine, Derek Barker and Tony Woods, followed by a very productive open discussion. At its Committee meeting on 12 December, Friends of Northcliffe gave strong support to the development of the Northcliffe Heritage Survey initiative. John Bromley was appointed as 'project co-ordinator" to support project development, including communicating with the Friends' Committee, supporters and the wider community, and co-opted onto the Committee to do this.

From the meeting, John developed the following action plan:

  1. John to circulate the outcome of the FON Committee meeting, and the Open
    Meeting discussion points (below) to those who attended the meeting, and to others
    who have expressed an interest.

  2. A project Working Group to be established.

  3. Working Group to meet in January (22nd January 2014, 7pm, Shipley Club)

  4. Working Group member to present the project design to the February FON meeting.

  5. Working Group member to present draft funding application to the March FON
    meeting.

  6. Plan and publicise practical project activities and training.

  7. John to continue to report on progress to future FON meetings.

Promotion

Promotion has been our biggest headache this year, as we have no-one doing this job at present, Joan and Keith have done a marvellous job keeping the boards up to date with event information, but it is a struggle on top of their other responsibilities. Please let us know if there is anyone out there who could help with any of the following (you don't need to be a committee member):

  1. Producing posters for the noticeboards

  2. Contacting the press about events

  3. Sending information to other groups/venues that might be able to promote outr
    activities

  4. Source products (bags/badges/etc) that we could sell at FoN events

Newsletters

The newsletter has gone from strength to strength, due to the efforts of Liz Hansen and Phil Morrison. We now have a modern, quality publication that is as good as any community group publication I have seen. It attracts high praise, and includes pieces written around users of Northcliffe. Thanks to Liz and Phil for all their efforts.

Membership

We have 174 members, an increase of 7 over this time last year. This is encouraging in terms of new members, especially as 15 members did not renew for various reasons such as leaving the area, etc. We did trial payment by internet transfer with a small number of late payers, which has a problem in that no information is available unless members e-mail the details of their payment. 55 members have also opted for email only subscriptions, which helps reduce our costs. If you would like to join them, please email Joan. Overall, subscriptions and donations, including specific donations for bird feeding of 378.50, raised a total of 1548. Thank you so much for your continuing generosity.

Administration

Planning meetings have been held at the Shipley Club, thanks to them for their continuing support. We elected to hold our AGM at the Kirkgate Centre, to maintain our links with another important community facility.

Finance

Finances continue to be well managed and healthy as evidenced by the accompanying Annual Accounts. We intend to agree a budget at the AGM.

Report prepared by Steve Bruzzese on behalf of the Committee:

Steve Bruzzese (Chair), Hugh Firman (Deputy Chair), Sheila Parkin (Secretary), Joan Newman (Treasurer and Membership Secretary), Melanie Bruzzese (Events Officer), Julia Pearson (Conservation Officer), Keith Scott (Website Officer), Liz Hansen (Committee Member), Jenny Burnell (Committee Member), Joan Stevens (Committee Member), John Bromley (Co-opted Committee Member).

With contributions from Joan Newman, John Bromley, Melanie Bruzzese, Steve Bruzzese and Julia Pearson.