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Essex Wildlife Trust
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Essex Wildlife Trust,
Abbotts Hall Farm, Great Wigborough,  Colchester, Essex CO5 7RZ
 01621 862990
Registered Charity No. 21006
November 2012: Grant has conveyed the following e-mail he received to us:

Sent: Tuesday, November 06, 2012 5:53 PM
Subject: Belfairs Woodland Centre update
(To see December picture of project scroll to bottom of page)

Dear all,
I am writing to update you on the progress of the Belfairs Park project. Since I last provided an update in April 2012 the project has moved on a significant amount.

The Belfairs Park project is about engaging local schools and communities in and around Southend in volunteering, education and family events. At the heart of the project, known as the ‘Hadleigh and Daws Heath Ancient Woodlands Living Landscape Project’, is the Belfairs Woodland Centre (please see attached image). This will be an efficient building incorporating sustainable design and energy efficient technology located on an area of amenity grassland in Belfairs Park. The aim of the centre is to provide a base from which events and activities can be launched. Run by Essex Wildlife Trust, it will be open to the whole community with many opportunities to explore, experience, learn and enjoy.

Conservation work, volunteering and education will take place across the wider Hadleigh and Daws Heath Living Landscape. A Living Landscape is a large area of countryside that has a particular character but has become fragmented by development or changes in land use. The aim of Essex Wildlife Trust is to bring these fragmented landscapes back to life by working with landowners, partners and local people. The character of the Hadleigh and Daws Heath Living Landscape is grasslands and ancient woodlands, which still dominate large parts of this area.

In April I updated you over the success of the application to planning. A number of conditions were set against the start of the project and these have been duly complied with and the go ahead to commence build was given.

I also updated you on the success of the application to the Heritage Lottery Fund for a grant of £855,000. We have been successful in securing funding from a large number of funders including Interreg 2 Seas, Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, Network Rail, Olympus KeyMed, Cory Environmental Trust in Southend-on-Sea, Forest Education Initiative, Fowler Smith Jones Trust, The ROSCA Trust, Alan and Fay Cherry Fund and Leslie Mary Carter Charitable Trust. We have since received funding from Bernard Sunley, the Local Sustainable Transport Fund and businesses associated with the Timber Trade. Thanks also for donations from the Castle Point Local Group and the Southend and Rochford Local Group.

In April 2012 Essex Wildlife Trust launched an appeal to its members and the local community to raise the last £50,000 for the project. This appeal was a great success and raised nearly £60,000, which will be used towards delivering the project. Thanks go to those who helped raise awareness of the appeal and to those who donated.

With funding and permissions in place we have been able to start the project. A Groundbreaking Ceremony took place in early September 2012 with the Worshipful the Mayor of Southend presiding over the event (please see attached image). This was then swiftly followed by setting up of the site and starting the groundworks.

We hope to soon have a building on site with the internal fit-out happening in 2013. All going as expected we will be holding the Grand Opening in Summer 2013.

Two new staff have joined the team and will be responsible for delivering activities across the whole landscape once the centre is open.
Jo Loman has joined Essex Wildlife Trust as the Education and Community Officer. Jo will be running outdoor sessions before the centre opens and will run a full programme of activities for schools, groups and families once the Belfairs Woodland Centre is open. For more information she can be contacted at

Ashley Pinnock has joined Essex Wildlife Trust as the Woodland Ranger. Ashley is a wildlife enthusiast and aims to get people involved in doing practical conservation tasks in the area, helping to protect and improve important habitats for wildlife. He will be running regular work parties and special events once the centre is open, but there will be plenty to do this season in the interim. He can be contacted on

Anyone looking to find out more about the Belfairs Project, or looking to support the project, can contact Louise Morris on 01702 215602 or email

Kind regards,
Louise Morris
Environmental Projects Manager (Southend)
01702 215602
07595 203164

The progress of the new Belfairs Visitor Centre as at 10th Dec. 2012 - taken from the above Facebook page