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Volunteers hailed as Fenland's 'extra workforce'

The massive contribution that volunteers make to life in Fenland was saluted at a joyful celebration evening last week.

Street Pride celebration 2016

Nearly 80 members of Street Pride, In Bloom and Friends groups packed the Braza Club in March for the annual get-together last Thursday (October 6). They were hailed as "effectively another work force" doing invaluable work to improve the district.

The tribute came from  Councillor Peter Murphy, Fenland District Council's Cabinet member responsible for the environment.

He said: "This evening is a time to say thank you to all the committed and dedicated groups of volunteers for all your enthusiasm and hard work for the benefit of everyone.

"The work carried out by all of you here tonight continues to make a huge difference to Fenland.

"Since April, there have been over 100 events held by you to improve the street scene and our green spaces. It is wonderful to see how many of you have gone beyond litter-picking by broadening your aims to focus on new activities such as clearing neglected sites.

"So a massive 'Thank You' to everyone. Well done!"

Cllr Murphy presented representatives of 17 groups with certificates recognising their efforts. Seven groups also picked up special awards in six different categories, with the Best Youth project being shared [See below].

Cllr Murphy's praise was echoed by Rebecca Robinett, the council's Street Pride coordinator, who hosted the event.

She gave a special mention to the Leverington and Whiittlesey Street Pride groups for their nominations in this year's Pride in Fenland awards - "another example of how group efforts are being recognised," she said.

Guest speaker James McAdie from the charity Froglife also stressed the "unbelievable power" of volunteering and its crucial role in helping them to create wildlife-friendly habitats.

He highlighted a large pond created at the Ring's End nature reserve, saying: "We'd never have been able to do it without the contribution made by volunteers.

In a bit of extra fun, the evening also saw each table competing to be first to complete a50-piece jigsaw depicting Street Pride's 10th anniversary celebration last year. The contest was won by the group from Chatteris, who completed the puzzle in just five minutes.

SPECIAL AWARDS

Best Nature: Friends of Station Road Cemetery

Members hold weekly work parties from September through to March, breaking off during the summer so as not to disrupt bird nesting. Activities include cutting back brambles, clearing weeds from around gravestones and planting spring bulbs. The volunteers are also recording any gravestones they uncover. They help to showcase the heritage of the cemetery in March as well as maintaining it as a place for peaceful reflection.

Best Partnership: March Street Pride / In Bloom

Following last year's project to create a sensory garden in an area outside the library, the group has now turned a grassed area behind Greetings card shop into a flower bed. They have worked with FACET members, who made the wooden kick rail to enclose the bed, and local nursery Delflands, which donated most of the plants. They are now looking to expand the sensory garden.

Best Street Scene: Chatteris in Bloom / Street Pride

In May about 70 people attended the unveiling of an unusual planter in memory of Ormond  Connolly, one of Chatteris in Bloom's founding members who sadly died in 2014. The planter is a replica of a train that used to pass through the town and featured in one of the works of art he produced in the 1950s. Many people were involved in making the train and installing it on site, including local business Metalcraft, which built the boiler, FACET, who made the wooden cab, tender and wheels, and Darren Manchett, who provided the base.

Best Youth:Gorefield Street Pride and Newton Street Pride (joint winners)

Gorefield Street Pride and the local primary school have worked together over the past two years to create a nature garden. Initially, they set up three areas in a corner of the sports field - one for plants to attract butterflies and birds, another for a bug hotel complex and hedgehog house, and a third for the pupils to plant fruit and vegetable seedlings. They have now added a section planted with apple trees and raised vegetable beds. Parents have also helped to plant bulbs and small shrubs and the school has acquired a combination potting shed / greenhouse and poly-tunnel.

Newton Street Pride are always looking out for new projects to promote their work.  This year, they teamed up with Kinderley Primary School to brighten up a bus shelter. The shelter was freshly painted and adorned with little pieces of brightly painted pottery. One group member went into the school and helped the children make their pieces, which were then fired in her kiln at home. Some of the children attended the official opening in May.

Best Community: Tydd St Giles Street Pride

Tydd St Giles is the latest community - the 12th - to set up a Street Pride group. Since forming last year, members have conducted monthly litter picks and have recently incorporated flower planting into their regular activities. They have bought three wooden planter barrels to place around the village and refurbished several benches.

Best Clean Up: Waterlees Street Pride / In Bloom

Waterlees in Bloom / Street Pride was among many groups across the district who took part in Keep Britain Tidy's 'Clean for the Queen' campaign in March. They joined members of Circle Housing Roddons and The Landscape Group in an event that included litter picking and general tidying up, followed by a cream tea. Orchards School also held a litter pick on school grounds.

Article added October 10, 2016