Conservation charity wins Heritage Lottery Fund support

Community volunteering charity The Conservation Volunteers (TCV) has received £39,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for a new project, Themelthorpe’s Natural Connections, near Reepham.

Volunteers relax at the end of the first task at Mayfields Farm (Photo: Mark Webster)

Led by volunteers from the local community, the project focuses on improving wildlife habitats and access to the countryside at two significant sites of natural heritage – Foxley Wood and Mayfields Farm.
From 5 February, there will opportunities for people in the area to meet new friends and learn new skills at a number of sessions that will run each Friday. These activities will run within the school day (11.15 am – 2.15pm) so are suitable for parents of school-aged children.
There will be a mixture of practical tasks, such as tree care and restoring ponds, with learning to identify plants and animals.
Participants do not need to be physically fit or have any previous experience – anyone over 18 can join in (16-17 year olds with parental permission).
There will be a free minibus from Dereham town centre and central Norwich so that people without their own transport will have the chance to participate.
The project’s two main sites are only a mile apart. Foxley Wood Norfolk Wildlife Trust reserve is the county’s largest ancient woodland. More than 350 flowering plants have been found here, including carpets of bluebells in spring, and the site is also a haven for butterflies.
Mayfields Farm is a 40-acre smallholding, owned by the Countryside Restoration Trust. The site includes hedges, young and mature trees (including a new traditional orchard), areas of rough grassland and ponds.
TCV works across the UK to create healthier and happier communities, where the activities have a lasting impact on people’s health, prospects and outdoor places.
Mark Webster, TCV’s Norfolk health projects officer, said: “We are really looking forward to working with local people at these beautiful wildlife sites in the heart of Norfolk, giving people the chance to connect with nature and make a positive difference to their own natural heritage.
“The new project has started really well with six people joining us for the first week and over a dozen for the second.”
Initial jobs have included step-building to improve footpath access at Mayfields Farm and coppicing trees to let light in at Foxley Wood, which should encourage wildflowers, butterflies and ground-nesting birds.
“I'm delighted at how much we have got done already,” Mr Webster continued. “It just shows how a group of people working together at a gentle pace can still make a real difference for wildlife.”
Head of the HLF in the East, Robyn Llewellyn, said: “This is an excellent project for the people of Mid Norfolk. As well as the vast collection of traditional countryside skills they will develop, this project will introduce people to some of the most important wildlife habitats in the country, and enable them to take action to conserve these special places for future generations.”

  • Anyone wanting further information or a programme of activities should contact Mark Webster 07843 069567 or
Upcoming activities

  • Fridays 5 February, 19 February, 4 March: Mayfields Farm car park, Reepham Road (between Peddlars Turnpike and Kerdiston Road), Foulsham NR20 5PS. (This site has a WC.)
  • Fridays 12 February, 26 February, 11 March, 25 March: Foxley Wood nature reserve – 1st (most northerly) car park after public entrance, Themelthorpe Road, Foxley NR20 4QR.
  • Friday 18 March: Sparham Pools nature reserve car park, Lyng Road (near River Wensum bridge), Pockthorpe, Lyng NR9 5QY


Bluebells under coppice at Foxley Wood (Photo: David North)

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