January – December 2016
2016 was the year in which we closed our 25th Anniversary, marking it with a splendid exhibition in Shipley Library in conjunction with BMES, as well as a smaller display at the Kirkgate Centre earlier in the year. We broke the 200 member target we set at the beginning of the year, which is a phenomenal achievement – now let’s see if we can double that (sorry, Joan!)
At the AGM, Hugh Firman stood down from his position as Deputy Chair, although remaining an active member and volunteer. Hugh has done a great deal for Friends of Northcliffe over the years, and we are incredibly grateful for all the hard work and commitment Hugh has shown. We’ve still called on Hugh’s expertise to comment on conservation matters throughout the year, and hope that Hugh will continue to give us the benefit of his considerable experience and expertise.
As always, we would like to thank all the people who help us with our activities – our members, volunteers, event leaders, committee members and the general public who support our events and activities so readily. We also thank the groups we collaborated with and whose facilities and services we used this year, such as Bradford Model Engineering Society (BMES), Northcliffe Environmental Enterprises Team (NEET), Northcliffe Allotments Society (NAS), Shipley Club, St. Paul’s Church, Bradford Environmental Education Service (BEES), Kirkgate Centre and RSPB Bradford and Airedale Local Group. Thanks are also due to Morrisons and Paul Kelly, the manager of their Idle Enterprise 5 store, for their generous support of our Santa Special. A special thanks also to Q20 Events, who not only lent us props for Santa’s grotto, but also brought street theatre from the Shipley Street Arts Festival to the Rae Gala. And a final thank you to Bradford Council for their continued support, particularly the Parks & Landscape Service and the Trees & Woodland Team.
In total we held 9 conservation activity sessions in 2016, contributing to the management of the woodland and pond.
The first woodland management volunteer sessions were in January and February, undertaking the removal of beech saplings. The aim is to prevent the dense canopy typical of this tree species forming and suppressing the bluebells and other tree species. The last volunteer session of the year in December was also removing beech saplings, and was held during the week to suit people less likely to volunteer at the weekend. We plan to continue with weekday sessions in 2017.
Through June, July and August we held 5 sessions, including one full day with BEES volunteer group, to control Himalayan balsam, an essential task to promote biodiversity in the woods. In addition to the FoN sessions BMES remove balsam from the area around the miniature railway.
In total we have held seven FoN led sessions, attracting 24 different people, totalling 38 ‘volunteer sessions’. Thirteen people were new to volunteering with Friends of Northcliffe.
In addition FoN commissioned the BEES conservation volunteer group to lead two volunteer days. One focussed on Himalayan balsam, but also emptied the silt traps. The other, at the end of September, dug out areas of shale and leaf litter from the pond and slit traps. The BEES sessions attracted 13 individuals totalling 18 volunteer days.
We have continued to feed the birds all year, thanks to the team of helpers coordinated by Hugh Firman. Especial thanks should go to Ken Shipley who brings the large bags of seed to the storage bins, and to Val Harris who stores the fat balls and delivers them as required. Another person to thank is Ann Dalton, who does take home the feeders for cleaning from time to time.
We have in place a plan & funding to erect some new nest boxes in the woods as soon as possible as all the bat boxes, often used by roosting birds, have been removed because they were not occupied by bats.
Despite the continuing lack of an events officer, we have managed a pretty respectable selection of events in 2016. It’s very unlikely that this would happen without the continued involvement from Melanie Bruzzese, who continues to ensure our major events take place. There’s only so much one person can do, however, so 2017 is likely to see a little scaling back on events, unless we can bring in any fresh blood to help out in this area. Like promotions, we do need a committee member who can take on some of the co-ordination.
The Big Garden Birdwatch took place on the last Sunday at the end of January alongside people all over the country. We met at our feeding station with members of the local RSPB group, and many came to enjoy the birds, chat to experts as well partake of refreshments provided by our members. A bird list was filled in and forwarded to RSPB. The next Birdwatch is the last weekend of January 2017.
The Easter Bunny picnic was next up, with help from our Friends at BMES. Train rides, sweet tombola, cakes and kids races helped make a special afternoon for a lot of children, whose highlight was meeting Easter Bunny! Kite Sunday followed in May, not well attended at all due to an extreme lack of wind. The stillest day of the month saw us running crazily around the meadow dragging a kite up into the air against its will! And the usual Big Lunch took place in June, without the top field this time due to waterlogging. Melanie ran family activities on the bottom field, and despite a damp start to the day the event was well attended.
Our annual Rae Gala took its original spot of the first weekend in July, driven by the change to Shipley Street Arts Festival. It was another very well attended event, with Q20 Events supplementing the usual gala attendees with their stilt walkers. Thanks are due to all our stallholders and performers, and Sean Gardner from the Council’s Parks & Landscape Service. Sean is an integral part of the event, always smiling, and representing the council superbly. Many thanks also to BMES, volunteers from FoN and people who made donations of cakes and money on the day – without you, the event would not be the success that it is.
In September, we held a Garden Party by the bowling green. It was a lovely sunny afternoon, with tables and chairs borrowed from St Paul’s to lay out on the lawn, and bunting adorning the trees and bowling pavilion. We had a gorgeous selection of cakes and treats donated by our generous members, and had a great afternoon.
An additional event was organised by Caitlin, Melanie and Steve’s daughter, who wanted to hold a charity event for Children in Need. She decided on what activities she wanted to run, including rides on the miniature railway, which BMES kindly agreed to provide.
Our third Santa Special, in conjunction with BMES, rounded off the year. We ran trains to Santa’s Grotto between 11:00 and 3:00, as last year, and opened privilege booking to both FoN and BMES members for two weeks before public sale. The number of public sales is getting less each year, and as we aren’t going to extend the event, eventually it may become members only – this year was another sell-out. We are advising people to join if they want to book again next year. Thanks to all the volunteers from FoN and BMES who helped in the run-up and on the day, particularly Melanie, Rebekah, Ken, Jennie and John (Santa). We’d also like to thank Morrisons Idle Enterprise 5 for their generous help with gifts, and Q20 Events for the loan of props for Santa’s Grotto.
A massive thank you to 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. Thank you also to the Parks & Landscape Service for giving us the continued use of the tennis pavilion for storage of our equipment, we are really grateful.
Northcliffe Heritage Project
Another busy year for this project. A cold day in January saw 80 people attending our open session to hear about the project’s progress so far. The new display boards got their first outing, and their photo in the Telegraph and Argus. Through February to May we undertook more detailed surveys and excavations of selected sites, looking at a quarry site, Coal Pit Close, the pits on the boundary with the golf course and returning to Dungeon Wood and Noon Nick. Our thanks to all the landowners who allowed us access - the Council, Northcliffe Golf Club and Mr. Jowett.
The history research group continued to dig away and see what it could find that would match what was being discovered on the ground.
Since then Derek and Tony have been busy trying to summarise all the findings and reports written during the last 2 years of the project into a final report.
September saw the display of FON’s 25th year in the library. The display boards, some artefacts and other photos about the heritage of the area were presented and received a lot of interest.
The project will end in 2017 when the reports are published and we plan to hold a final open meeting to share our findings.
We still have a vacancy for a Promotions officer, although we do have one or two offers from people that can help with specifics, which Steve has been struggling to follow up on due to his other commitments. Joan and Keith are continuing to keep the noticeboards up to date with FoN events between them, our thanks for that.
Ideally we do need a committee member just to co-ordinate. There are offers of help, but it’s difficult for other committee members to co-ordinate that help alongside other responsibilities. That said, we would still welcome help with any of the following without needing to be a committee member:
Filling in and printing events posters for the noticeboards
Contacting the press about events
Sending information to other groups/venues that might be able to promote our activities
Attending events to promote FoN and Northcliffe
Producing materials that help people learn about Northcliffe.
Besides our noticeboards, social media continues to be our strongest promotional channel, in particular Twitter with 734 followers.
We would like to thank our members who regularly deliver newsletters locally, as well as Phil Morrison who designs the magazine, and Shipley Print for their excellent service.
Many members receive the newsletter by e-mail only, and this saves us money and delivery time. However a printed copy can always be useful, and passed on to prospective new members. Do e-mail Joan if you would like a printed copy again.
Thank you to everyone who has contributed to the newsletter over the past year, however we would welcome contributions from more people, even if it is only photos with or without a caption. Please note that photos for the front cover need to be in portrait orientation and all photos should be as high a resolution as you can manage.
In December we decided to go for two newsletters a year due to the number of contributions we receive, these will be in Spring and Autumn.
The challenge at the 2016 AGM has been reached - we now have 202 memberships, which is an increase of 16 since this time last year. Unfortunately, 18 members also failed to keep up with subscriptions, meaning the final figure could have been well beyond our target. At the other end of the scale, some folk have already paid for the year 2017/2018, mostly those who paid with the Santa Special 2016 applications.
Overall, subscriptions with donations raised a total of £1682, which is an increase on last year. Thank you so much for your continuing generosity. Payment by internet transfer was done by a small number of members. This can cause a problem identifying and correctly allocating payments, unless members e-mail their details with the amount paid as membership fees and donations.
We have continued to hold planning meetings at the Shipley Club, and we thank them for their continuing support. We are again holding our AGM at the Kirkgate Centre, to maintain our links with and support another important community facility. We have also used the Kirkgate Centre on occasions when Shipley Club have been unable to accommodate us.
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), Sheila Parkin (Secretary), Joan Newman (Treasurer and Membership), Julia Pearson (Conservation), Keith Scott (Website), Liz Hansen (Newsletter), Val Harris (Northcliffe Heritage Project), John Bromley (General Committee Member), Guy Barford (General Committee Member), Joan Stevens (General Committee Member).
With contributions from Joan Newman, Val Harris, Melanie Bruzzese, Steve Bruzzese and Julia Pearson.