Mince pies around a holly bonfire mark the end of successful year

Picture by Angie Aird

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MULLED wine and mince pies were the order of the day at the last meeting of the year for a woodland’s conservation group.

The Friends of Park Wood invited volunteers and Waterlooville residents to mark the end of 12 months of hard work.

Friends of Park Wood in Waterlooville celebrate a year of succesfull management of the wood with a fire and mulled wine. Volunteer Steve Lush and Chairman Jackie Buckley tend the fire.'Picture: Ian Hargreaves (143678-1)

Friends of Park Wood in Waterlooville celebrate a year of succesfull management of the wood with a fire and mulled wine. Volunteer Steve Lush and Chairman Jackie Buckley tend the fire.'Picture: Ian Hargreaves (143678-1)

A bonfire was lit in the Beech Glade to stave off the cold and volunteers were thanked for their hard work over the past year, which has seen them plant 12 new trees and clear acres of overgrown holly.

Chairwoman of the group Jackie Buckley said: ‘The Friends of Park Wood was established 12 years ago and this meeting has become a tradition now.

‘We meet on the last Sunday of December for mulled wine and mince pies as a thank you to all the members and volunteers who turn out to help us throughout the year.’

The group has around 120 members and meets on the last Sunday of every month to carry out maintenance to the small area of semi-natural ancient woodland, to the west of the A3 north of Waterlooville, between Wallis Road and Queens Road.

The eight-acre woodland is a remnant of the ancient Forest of Bere and has a core wooded area and two former meadows, which are partly regenerated with native species.

Some of the trees in the wood, particularly its yew trees, are up to 400 years old.

In Victorian times, the woods became part of the Hart Plain Estate and the remains of an old walled garden and species from the ornamental woodland can still be seen.

Steve Lush, from Wallis Gardens, has been a volunteer for 12 years. He said the group had worked hard to get rid of the laurel, which was introduced as part of the ornamental gardens, under control.

They are now focusing on clearing holly which has started to take over the wood.

Mr Lush, 63, said: ‘We are generating something for the community and keeping the green space open. If we didn’t the pathways would become impassible.

‘We have a three-year plan, you don’t get a good woodland without some sort of management plan.’

David Peters, from Horndean, was at the event to show support for the volunteers.

Mr Peters, 64, said: ‘These woods are a wildlife haven, occasionally you can see deer and in the spring there is a sea of bluebells.

‘Even though there are houses each side and the main road is less than 300 yards away, when you are in the woods you can’t hear anything except your breath and the birds. It is an idyll.’

For information or to volunteer go to park-wood.org