Annual Report 1 January 2014 – 31st December 2014
This year has seen the biggest events calendar in Friends of Northcliffe’s proud history, and has been successful on a number of other fronts, especially our ongoing conservation activities, and the fantastic progress made by the Northcliffe Heritage Project (NHP). We were saddened to learn of the death of John McIlwaine, who was a great help to us in getting NHP off the ground. Jenny Burnell also chose not to stand for re-election as a general committee member, but has continued to play an active part in events. We’re grateful to Jenny for everything she’s contributed as a committee member, and continues to contribute as an active member.
There are, as ever, a number of people to thank, without whom much of what we do would not happen – our members, volunteers, event leaders, committee members, events committee and the general public who support our events and activities so readily. We also thank the groups we collaborate with and whose facilities and services we use, such as Bradford Model Engineering Society (BMES), Northcliffe Environmental Enterprises Team (NEET), Northcliffe Allotments Society (NAS), Shipley Club, Sponge Tree, Q20 Events, Bradford Environmental Enterprise Services (BEES), Kirkgate Centre, Heaton Woods Trust, Workers’ Educational Association (WEA), RSPB Bradford and Airedale, Bradford Council and our local Councillors. Thanks are also due to Asda and Morrisons for their financial support of events.
The conservation work in 2014 has continued to make a positive contribution to the management of the woods thanks to the great commitment of many volunteers. The year started and ended with woodland management sessions to remove Beech saplings. Four sessions were held, three attracting 12 people, and one with a great group of 16. We concluded the final session in December with tea and cake. This was a good end to the year and we would like to repeat it in the future.
Between June and August, five evening FoN sessions were held to pull Himalayan balsam. Numbers for these sessions were lower varying from three to eight. We appreciate evenings do not suit everyone, especially as there are often midges about, but the work to remove the balsam is essential for the biodiversity management of the woods. It is not so easy to schedule weekend work in the summer but we will try and include some in the future. In addition to the FoN sessions BMES remove balsam from the area around the miniature railway. A group of young people on the Princes Trust Team programme in Shipley and a group from BEES also did some pulling.
In total we have held nine FoN sessions, attracting 31 different people, totalling 78 ‘volunteer sessions’. Twelve people were new to volunteering with Friends of Northcliffe.
We have commissioned the BEES conservation volunteer group on two occasions. In June thirteen volunteers revisited the path in Old Spring Wood. With the help of a Bradford Council Countryside Officer a liner was installed and covered with hardcore. Leaf litter was cleared from the nearby paths and bramble was cut back. In October ten volunteers cleared areas of the pond and the silt trap. A group of 30 volunteers from ASDA (national management team) worked to clear leaf litter from the paths around the pond. NEET supported this session by loaning tools.
The bird feeding area is still proving popular with birds and people alike, and also squirrels, who regularly chew the feeders. We now have a team of six who regularly fill the feeders. We are grateful to Ken Shipley for 'baffling' the mammals and taking over bulk food deliveries from Joan until we can come up with an easier solution. We also thank Guy, Joan and Martin for replacing the gate, and Val for taking on fat ball storage. We spent £190.15 on food, with £132.82 specifically donated for bird feeding remaining. Jenny Cassidy donated food and feeders, and Hugh continues to manage the rota of feeders. Liz Kidman, a member who owns Wilsden Animal Feeds, is helping us out by supplying and delivering bulk seed at a competitive rate.
A group of volunteers interested in dry stone walling have made a start in repairing the wall at the top of Old Spring Wood. A total of 84 feet have now been completed, with only another 184 feet to go! More volunteers would be welcome in 2015 to help meet this challenge.
Three wildlife events were organised. About 30 adults and children attended the Northcliffe Big Garden Birdwatch in January and enjoyed seeing and learning more about the birds. We are grateful to the RSPB Bradford and Airedale Local Group for providing bird food, sales goods and expert advice and Northcliffe Allotments Society for the loan of their clubhouse. The Dawn Chorus walk in May would have been cancelled were it not for two brave souls turning up at 4.45am in torrential rain. Despite the weather, the birds were in good voice. A large group turned up for the Nocturnal Wildlife walk in June. The group were treated to an amazing display of ghost moths and other creatures of the night.
OTHER EVENTS TO FOLLOW FROM MEL
Northcliffe Heritage Project
Following the well-attended public meeting in 2013 about the heritage of Northcliffe organised by John Bromley, Derek Baker and Tony Woods, a small working group was formed to develop the Heritage project. Derek and Tony led a number of very well attended walks around Northcliffe during the year and also one in Heaton Woods. People started to get in contact from all parts of the UK and abroad with some stories about their family connections to Northcliffe. Working group members worked with the Kirkgate Centre, using their film-editing software to make a Northcliffe Community Video. This features resident interviews including people who attend the Kirkgate Older Persons’ Day Centre. The video has been copied for the Library Service’s Archive and is also available to view on You Tube.
We have worked with the Workers’ Educational Association (WEA) to develop 2 Heritage courses. These were based at the Kirkgate Centre, the first one focussing on the history of Shipley, the second looking at the heritage of the Aire Valley. A further 7 session course, ‘People, Resources and Landscape of the Aire Valley’ is planned to start in late January 2015. Through the Heritage Project new links have been made with the Heaton Woods Trust, notably in November for a Heritage Walk.
Val Harris took on the co-ordination of the working group from John Bromley. We discussed what we wanted to achieve and decided that with some financial support from FoN, we could initially develop the project without bidding for Heritage Lottery Funds. We made an action plan, which included organising a walkover survey over the winter of 2014-15 to see what could be found on the ground. The main landowners were contacted and both Bradford Council and the Northcliffe Golf Club have been enthusiastic supporters of the project. Volunteers for undertaking the survey were gathered through contacting FON members, those who had attended the public meeting, those who were on the WEA course and by a stall we ran at the Heritage Open day at Shipley Library .Two popular induction sessions were held, at the Kirkgate Centre and the Library, to explain the project and what volunteers could do. These were followed by two on-the ground training sessions in Old Spring Woods and further guided walks by Derek.
We now have three teams of volunteers who are going out every few weeks, equipped with sat-navs, recording sheets, ranging poles, measuring tapes and cameras. Already quite a few spoil heaps and mine shaft entrances have been discovered and plotted against all the maps that Tony is bringing together. Slowly a good picture is being built up of what might have been happening at Northcliffe over the centuries, and it is also raising as many questions as it answers.
Some people decided not to brave the mud of the woods and have instead formed a small historical research group co-ordinated by Tony, each person undertaking some particular piece of research, looking at the census, local papers, ancestry sites, key text books and local archives.
As well as making use of all the available maps, and techniques such as LIDAR to determine the areas to look at in more detail, we have asked for some expert help to determine if geophysics would be any use to us in understanding more about what is under the ground.
During 2015 we plan to organise ways to share all our findings with FON members and the wider public, review what we have found out from the initial survey so we can return to the most promising sites next winter, and we will be consider what role oral history can play in this project.
We still have a vacancy for a Promotions officer, which presents us with some ongoing challenges. We have no-one that can regularly produce posters for the noticeboards, although Joan has done a great job doing this. As last year, 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. Liz also did a great job of sourcing promotional material in the form of canvas bags for us to sell at events – they look great, and are a bargain at £3 each or two for £5.
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):
Producing posters for the noticeboards
Contacting the press about events
Sending information to other groups/venues that might be able to promote outr activities
Source products (bags/badges/etc) that we could sell at FoN events
We have published three editions this year, and the quality continues to attract praise. We have had several editions printed by Shipley College, but their costs rose dramatically. We were able to secure a great deal with Shipley Print, as well as support a local business. Thanks go to Phil Morrison who negotiated the deal, and has continued to volunteer his considerable design skills to produce a fantastic magazine that we can be justifiably proud of.
We have 174 members, which is the same as this time last year. Encouragingly, we are continuing to attract new members at the same rate as those not renewing for various reasons such as leaving the area, etc. – 17 this year. 68 members have opted for email only subscriptions, an increase of 13 since last year. If you would like to join them, please email Joan, as this helps reduce our costs. Overall, subscriptions and donations raised a total of £1436, slightly down on last year due to less donations specifically for bird feeding. 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 were saddened to hear of the passing away of members Maurice Porter, Elisabeth Shepherd, Pam Lofthouse and Norman Woodhead (who was Sir Norman Rae's grandson). Our sincere condolences to their family and friends, and thanks to Mrs Margaret Dilke (Norman Woodhead's niece), who wants to be kept in touch and maintain that important historical link with us.
We have continued to hold planning meetings at the Shipley Club, and we thank them for their continuing support. We agreed to hold our AGM again at the Kirkgate Centre, to maintain our links with and support another important community facility.
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), Guy Barford (Committee Member), Joan Stevens (Committee Member), John Bromley (Committee Member), Val Harris (co-opted Committee Member).
With contributions from Joan Newman, John Bromley, Val Harris, Melanie Bruzzese, Steve Bruzzese and Julia Pearson.