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  • Durham OnAir

Free Family Days at Blaydon Nature Reserve

Families in Gateshead are being given the chance to get closer to nature

and help improve their local environment thanks to a new initiative

being funded by a four-figure grant from the Newcastle Building Society

Community Fund at the Community Foundation.

Durham Wildlife Trust is holding a series of free family days at the

Shibdon Pond Nature Reserve in Blaydon which are designed to get

different generations across the local community involved with looking

after and learning more about the pond, reed beds and woodland meadows

that make up the Reserve.

The two-hour Green Connections sessions will run through the year and

will cover a variety of different activities, including woodland

coppicing, footpath work and scything the meadows.

Nature events including birdwatching and butterfly spotting will also

take place through the year, with the Trust providing all the equipment

needed for families to take part.

A £3,000 grant from the Newcastle Building Society Community Fund at the

Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland, which offers grants

to charities and community groups located in or around the communities

served by the Society's branch network, is being used to fund the


Durham Wildlife Trust owns and manages 50 nature reserves across County

Durham, Darlington, Gateshead, South Tyneside and Sunderland, and works

to provide special places for people, wildlife and future generations.

It runs a range of regular events and activities across all its

locations, including Wildlife Watch sessions for 5–11 year-olds, a Beach

Rangers group for teenagers and even outdoor Wild Yoga classes.

Mandy Bell, Conservation Project Officer at Durham Wildlife Trust, says:

“Shibdon Pond Nature Reserve is a real green haven in a predominantly

urban area which we know is well used and highly valued by the local


“We ran a test event which was very successful and we’re now looking to

get as many local families coming down to the Reserve as we can to enjoy

what it offers and to help us keep it in the best possible condition.

“By taking part, families will get the chance to spend more time being

active together, can make new friends and will see how the work they’re

doing is helping to improve the natural space in their community.

“We’ll provide all the equipment and tools that people need to take

part, as well as the expertise to guide them in the different tasks that

they’ll be completing.

“We saw the need and opportunity to bring this project idea to life, but

without Newcastle Building Society’s help, we simply wouldn’t have been

able to make it happen, so we’re extremely grateful for their support.”

Paul Edwards, Head of Enterprise Risk at Newcastle Building Society, who

recently visited the charity, adds: “The importance of getting out into

nature and the value of our green spaces has never been clearer than it

has been over the last couple of years.

“The work of the Durham Wildlife Trust team and the many volunteers that

support them makes a massive difference to the green spaces across our

region, and we’re very pleased to be able to support a grassroots

environmental project that will benefit local people in lots of

different ways.”

Since its launch in 2016, Newcastle Building Society’s Community Fund at

the Community Foundation has also contributed over £2.3m in grants and

partnerships to a wide variety of charities and projects across the

region, including the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and the Prince’s


The grants are so far estimated to have had a positive impact on more

than 151,000 people.


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