Friends of Northcliffe Annual Report 1 April 2010 – 31st March 2011
2010 marked our 20th anniversary and was another successful year. We benefitted from a period of stability and the addition of two new dynamic committee members. Julia took over as Conservation Officer and Melanie as both Promotions and Events Officers. Both live nearby and regularly visit Northcliffe. Melanie’s love of Northcliffe is shared by her husband Steve, proved by the fact that they were married in the woods in August! Grateful thanks to all those who have contributed to our success, especially members, partner organisations such as Northcliffe Allotments Society and Bradford Model Engineering Society and Bradford Council councillors and officers.
The challenge in the summer months was to tackle the significant amounts of Himalayan Balsam which is widespread, especially on the bank between the stream and the golf course. We held two evening sessions; one attracted no volunteers, the other there were 3 of us and we worked above the pond. In addition we arranged for an extra volunteer session with BEES (Bradford Environmental Education Service, part of Bradford YMCA) conservation volunteers (Julia’s day job). A group of 23 spent one Friday in late June pulling balsam as well as emptying the silt trap at the entrance to the pond and repairing the revetment in the same area. Our challenge for this summer is to work out the best way of maximising the balsam pulling volunteers.
Leading into autumn we worked together with BEES volunteers to landscape in and around the pond. Shipley Area Committee provided funding for four volunteer days and to buy pond plants. A decision was made not to use a mechanical digger to remove the organic debris in the pond. Access is difficult, as is disposal of the silt, and it disturbs the ecology of the pond. Instead we opted to manually dig out an area of the pond and a channel from inlet to outlet. At the same time the Council repaired the wall top and some of the pond edge and made a new bung for the dam wall. The remaining muddy areas have been planted to create a marsh that is less attractive to dogs and other feet. So far flag iris (donated by Brackenhall Countryside Centre), meadowsweet, ragged robin and water mint have been planted and the remainder will be added later in spring. The water levels have fluctuated through the winter and we will watch with interest to see what happens in the summer and what further management is needed.
Several bird boxes have been made and erected including two designed with treecreepers in mind. A tawny owl box has been made but not yet put up.
Through the winter we have continued with the removal of beech saplings which, if untended, would affect the ground flora of the woods as they cast dense shade. This task has been supported by the tools purchased with a Bradford CNet Grassroots Grant. Bowsaws, loppers, a billhook, sickle and litter pickers as well as gloves and first aid kits make up the tool kit that will be an asset for many years.
We have a close working relationship with Bradford Council and officers are extremely supportive of our work.
A full and well attended programme of events was organised. Veronica Youngson provided a successful fungi and fruits woodland walk as well as an historical town walk through Shipley. Hugh and Lisa led a Dawn Chorus walk. Last years extended Rae Gala was a huge success with new additions being acoustic entertainment, children’s activity corner and games for all ages.
A Friends of Northcliffe presentation was given at the last neighbourhood forum with two more dates booked in for Shipley North and Bingley in May and June. This will raise awareness, promote events and gain more members. Events will continue to be promoted in the local press, through posters in the park and library, leaflets in schools, BMES, FoN and BEF websites, the newsletter and the local radio.
Membership numbers increased by over a third to 133 (two of which are complimentary), far exceeding our target of 120. Since many of our memberships are ‘families’ our number of members is well over 150, considerably more, if you count all the pupils of Shipley Church of England School, who recently joined! Just 7 memberships were not renewed. For the first time we offered gift membership at around Christmas which resulted in 7 new memberships.
We have started to try some new ideas with a view to a major rewrite. The page dedicated to the art competition has been replaced with one on conservation. This page in turn incorporates a mini slide show instead of a static photo or photos. This idea seems to be popular so we intend to use the same set up on other pages. Projects Past / Present has been replaced with a page called Background to F of N C. The information on the Project page was duplicated elsewhere. The last change is a member’s page. This has a code entry only released to members.
In addition to the changes already mentioned above, the old newsletters in future will be on a dedicated page for all to access along with other archived information such as old Target cuttings. There will be major rewrites of some of the pages and hopefully some changes to the photo gallery to make it more informative. The time scale for all this to happen is flexible but we hope to achieve the major changes within the next six months.
Three high quality newsletters have been produced. A small team of volunteers hand delivers 104 copies. Also two members have opted for e-mail only copies. With high postage costs this saves us a significant amount of money.
Planning meetings have continued to be held at the Kirkgate Centre and have been well-attended with several non-Committee members and Council officers attending and making valuable contributions
Finances continue to be well managed and healthy as evidenced by the accompanying Annual Accounts. We intend to agree a budget at the AGM.
Funding of £67,000 for the children’s play area was pulled from the Council last year. 50% was reinstated on the provision that the remaining funds were found elsewhere. Friends of Northcliffe are working with the Council to secure the remaining £35,360. An application for the Jubilee lottery fund was put forward but was unfortunately unsuccessful. The next stage is to put an application in for WREN funding with a view to raising 10 to 15% of the total amount required. A plan is underway to seek support from local business for sponsorship. Equipment has been purchased with the initial funding.
Collated by Hugh Firman, with contributions by Melanie and Steve Bruzzese, Joan Newman, Julia Pearson and Keith Scott, on behalf of the Committee:
Hugh Firman (Chair), Jenny Burnell (Deputy Chair), Sheila Parkin (Secretary), Joan Newman (Treasurer and Membership Secretary), Melanie Bruzzese (Events and Promotions Officer), Julia Pearson (Conservation Officer), Lisa Chadwick (Newsletter Editor), Keith Scott (Website Officer), June Carter (Rae Gala Coordinator), Margot Rowan (Committee Member), Joan Stevens (Committee Member).