Hard-working volunteers make reserve blossom again

Volunteers from the Prince's Trust joining members of Ellington Pond Group, parish councillors and the Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service to help begin the clear up and restoration after an arson attack on the bird hide.  Sir Alan Beith MP joined them to view the damage and he is pictured with George Jackson, the Chairman of the Nature Reserve Group and also the parish council.
Volunteers from the Prince's Trust joining members of Ellington Pond Group, parish councillors and the Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service to help begin the clear up and restoration after an arson attack on the bird hide. Sir Alan Beith MP joined them to view the damage and he is pictured with George Jackson, the Chairman of the Nature Reserve Group and also the parish council.

A FIRE-RAVAGED reserve is returning to its natural glory thanks to the efforts of young volunteers.

Ellington Nature Reserve was created by volunteers little over a year ago after they secured grants from the Big Lottery Fund and Groundwork North East to turn a five-acre wasteland into a disability-friendly community space.

The reserve was completed with walkways, a bird hide, dipping pier, seats and information boards.

But in April disaster struck when arsonists attacked the site, burning down the hide and destroying a platform over the pond.

Members of the Ellington Pond Group are still picking up the pieces of the attack, however their restoration efforts were given a welcome boost when young people involved in a Prince’s Trust scheme offered a helping hand.

Over a week the small team managed to clear the burnt planks and other debris, with Northumberland County Council lending a skip, as well as re-stain a 350m fence on both sides, cut the grass, lay four tonnes of gravel around the pond and carry out minor tree surgery.

And as if that wasn’t enough, they also turned their attention to Ellington Village Hall in preparation for the community’s Diamond Jubilee party, putting up bunting, repairing stone walls and clearing moss.

Parish councillor John Patterson, who is a member of the pond group, said: “We had a fantastic week with the Prince’s Trust people. We got lots of work done and it really lifted the dark cloud from what happened with the fire. They worked so hard and it lifted the morale a lot. They did an excellent week’s work free of charge.”

The team was invited to the site by parish councillor Abigail Hill, and volunteers were supervised by the Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service, which oversees the courses. MP Sir Alan Beith also called in to see the work in progress.

“Sir Alan was there when we opened the reserve and he condemned the people who were responsible for the fire, but he was pleased to hear that everything was moving forward positively and he was delighted to see the volunteers there,” said Coun Patterson.

The pond group is expecting insurance money to come through for the damaged facilities, but members are still undecided about whether to replace the hide or just repair the platform.

Coun Patterson said: “Some of us think we shouldn’t put a hide back up because it could happen again and if there is nowhere for these people to sit there is less chance of having any more damage, but some of us would like to put it back because it was nice and a lot of people used it. We are still a bit unsure. Once we get the figures we can make a more informed choice.”