Last year, I was able to report some progress for the first time in quite a while and I am pleased to say that, once again, some progress has been made in the past twelve months although difficulties in securing funding continue to be a significant problem.
One significant step forward over the past twelve months has been with the website which is now up and running and requires only routine updating to keep it current. We have also added some information on Google Maps and that is being seen by a number of people each month. We actually had one couple in a camper van visiting the forest as a result of finding us on Google. After many years of membership stagnation, we have also benefitted this year from a significant influx of new members interested in our work. This is an extremely welcome development and I hope that we can continue to expand our membership over the coming year.
Our ability to stage events on site this year was severely compromised by ongoing work in the forest where harvesting scheduled to be complete by early summer in fact went on for most of the year. We do hope to be able to stage events over the winter and into spring and summer next year and the committee is committed to do this with a view to keeping our project in the public eye and to establishing ourselves as a partner with other organisations in providing a facility for the benefit of the community
Although there was little or no activity in the forest this year, some work was still required to keep the site tidy; grass still needs to be cut. This year, we are greatly indebted to Tom and Sarah Whelan who saved us many hours of work by cutting the grass for us. Some additional tidying was also carried out and some of the brash from tree felling a few years ago was removed. This is still a work in progress. The toilets continue to be used by visitors to the forest and they also require some attention.
Our long term plans have continued to evolve in response to the ongoing difficulties in obtaining funding. Our ultimate objective is still to provide an outdoor centre on the site but it is recognised that, realistically, this is a long way away and we are now firmly committed to a staged approach.
- Providing shelter onsite by refurbishing the old generator shed.
- Providing a camp kitchen for use by visitors to the site and at events.
- Providing a more substantial shelter to support events on site. Our current thinking is to buy a large bell tent or a Mongolian yurt depending on how much funding we can secure.
In conclusion, it is very gratifying indeed to finally have some progress to show for all the work that has been done in the background and to have a vision of where were going in the next twelve months which is, I believe, realistic and achievable. Finally, as always, I would like to thank my colleagues on the Board over the past twelve months for their support and for all the work they have done and to wish next year’s Board even more hard work and just a bit more success.