Resuts of the public opinion survey

Between March and June 2013 the Trust that oversees the Whitchurch Meadow ran a public opinion survey. We especially welcomed younger people (below age of 20) as we rarely hear from this age group in spite of their active use of the Meadow.

We received 79 responses: 77 of them from Whitchurch residents and 2 from surrounding villages. All age groups were represented fairly, with the following number of responses:  5-10 years old: 5 responses; 10-20 years old: 10 responses; 20-40 years old: 24 responses; 40-60 years old: 30 responses; and 60+ years old: 13 responses.

Participants of the survey gave nearly equal preference to the following activities: Dog walking, family gathering/picnicking, participating in events, observing wildlife and walking/running with majority of the people visiting the Meadow weekly or monthly. We are thus very pleased that the survey achieved a balanced view with none of the groups being overrepresented.

To the main question of the survey “Would you use the Meadow more frequently if it was better suited to your needs?”  54% responded that the Meadow suits them perfectly well, while 46% suggested that they would use it more frequently if it had other amenities.

DESIRES

The amenities most desired were: Better spaces for children to run around without getting into the stinging nettles; and, more spaces for the ball games.

A small number of survey participants also voted for better fences to make dog walking safer, more public events, better educational information and a better variety of wildlife.

FAVOURITES

From a list of 15 recent developments at the Meadow, the clear favourites were: 1. Gravel re-enforced footpaths; 2. Trees planted in the woodland; and, 3. Cast iron picnic tables and benches. The least popular (albeit still voted somewhat useful) were:  “Can you see the real one” posts; deepening of the ponds and electricity supply.

IMPROVEMENT SUGGESTIONS

The survey participants were invited to submit further suggestions for improvements. We were delighted to receive 34 “free- text” comments, some very extensive. Below are the most frequently repeated suggestions:

  1. Get rid or at least substantially reduce stinging nettles (mentioned by nearly everyone);
  2. Provide better rubbish bins;
  3. Provide public BBQs;
  4. Better access to the stream for children to splash;
  5. Tree swings ;
  6. Provide a ‘Welcome’ sign outside, so the entrance to the Meadow does not look as someone’s private mansion; and,
  7. Don’t “over-manage”, as at present it has a good balance between being a place for wildlife and a place for recreation.

The two most frequently expressed points of view were:

  1. The Meadow is a place for family gatherings, walking and running in a wonderful natural setting; a place for traditional games like rounders and Frisbee. It should not be confused neither with a playground or a sport field, nor with a botanic garden; and,
  2. The Meadow should serve everyone in the community, and no one group of users can be discriminated against.

In respect to the point two, we notice the following interesting outcome of the survey: Improving various aspects of wildlife, and running less public events disturbing it, were mentioned as frequently as running more public events (including car boot sales and an ice skating rink) and providing play equipment for children such as e.g. playground or crazy golf.

Other suggestions:

Protecting privacy and piece of neighbouring houses; presenting more historical information on the water meadows; displaying management plan; removing outdated signs.

 

Hi-Tech Pond Dipping Returns to the Meadow

September 1, 2013
11:00 amto3:00 pm
Kids and adults see the little bugs they caught magnified on the big screen.

Kids and adults see the little bugs they caught magnified on the big screen (2009).

On Sunday 1st September (11am-3pm) Hi-Tech trailer will return to the Meadow – it has always been extremely popular both with adults and children alike!

The event, as usual, will be led by Dr. Richard Osmond, an ecologist and a great enthusiast of natural history and education. It’s a magic trailer full of equipment linked to microscopes and computers – a giant projection screen enlarges all the tiny creatures that are being examined.

WHATEVER THE WEATHER

Don’t miss it this year! The event will go ahead whatever the weather!

If it is too dry for the pond dipping, then you can investigate insects caught in the grass. If it rains, then there are some marquees to provide a cover.

BRING A PICNIC

Bring crocs, as they have proved to be the best for messing in the stream. Why not to bring your own picnic and spend the whole day at the Meadow?

The funds for the event are provided by the Co-Op.

Polite notice: this is not a drop-off event. You will have to supervise your own children – no doubt you’ll find out that it is lots of fun, too!

Getting ready for some investigations...

Getting ready for some investigations during the trailer’s visit in 2009.

 

Meadow public opinion survey

Meadow - opinion survey icon

The online survey is available by clicking on the image above.

The Millennium Meadow is a public open space – a great community resource. It caters for a wide variety of people and groups with surprisingly wide needs and desires.

Over the last few years we have had feedback ranging from “what a fabulous facility”, “it is a major waste of community space and needs a playground” to “it should be run as a botanic garden without dogs and children running free for the greater good of interested public”.

Please participate in our survey to help us better understand your needs, desires and opinions so the trustees can optimise the allocation of funds, resources and help of volunteers.

You can fill the survey electronically HERE or fill a hard copy at the Meadow during the May Day celebrations on 4th May.

Please have as many members of your family fill in a survey as you wish – especially if you have Meadow users with various interests and needs! We especially welcome children’s participation as some of the questions are addressed to them.

 

Meadow AGM 2012

The AGM of the Meadow was held on 11 October 2012 and those present were entertained with two superb presentations on the history of the Meadow.  The Trustees reported that Linda Cowley had resigned from the Trust on 8 September and Graham Burgess would be retiring as Chairman and Trustee at the end of this meeting.

They thanked Graham  and Linda for their significant commitment and contribution to the development of the Meadow and recognised that their hard work had helped to create this wonderful place that we all enjoy today.

The retirement of these two original Trustees means that the Trust is even more keen to hear from anybody who would like to be considered for appointment as a Trustee.

Please contact the Secretary, Phillippa Walther-Caine at phillippacaine@yahoo.co.uk or on 01256 896522 or any other Trustee to discuss the opportunity further.

The Whitchurch Millennium Green receives the Green Flag Award

The Whitchurch Millennium Green  is one of 1424 UK sites receiving a Green Flag Award today  – the national award for public and community parks and green spaces.

The Millennium Green in Whitchurch is open seven days a week to all members of the community whether they be walkers, sitters, dog walkers, educational groups, community groups and even hot air balloonists.

Paul Todd, Green Flag Award Scheme Manager, said:

“We are thrilled to announce yet another record-breaking year for Green Flag Award parks and green spaces. A Green Flag Award provides national recognition for the achievements of all those whose hard work and dedication has helped to create these fantastic places for all to enjoy.

“I must also thank all this year’s 800+ volunteer judges for their magnificent efforts in assessing an astounding number of applications.”

Mayday celebration had an Olympic twist

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The Whitchurch Carnival Queen, Princess and attendants make wreaths with assistance of Meadow Friends.

This year, the traditional Whitchurch Mayday celebration on the Meadow had an Olympic twist.

In England, the May Queen was traditionally crowned with a wreath made of hawthorn which is usually in full bloom at the beginning of May. Unfortunately, because of an unusually cold and wet April 2012, hawthorn was not quite in bloom yet, and so a blending of the old English tradition with an ancient Olympic one was done.

The wearing of floral wreaths was a traditional attribute of the Olympic Games from the beginning of their history: The first Olympic champions were crowned with the wreaths made of olive branches.

VISITORS MADE OWN WREATHS

A number of beautiful wreath designs for visitors of all ages was created with help from Friends of the Meadow.

Many visitors helped collect plants to put into their wreaths and to twist the branches together – then of course, they were able to wear their masterpieces as they enjoyed the Mayday dancing and crowning of the Whitchurch Carnival Queen for 2012.

OLYMPIC COMPETITION

The Meadow Friends’ enthusiasm with floral wreath making started much earlier than May: last year the Botanic Garden Conservation International (BGCI) announced a global competition for young people to create a design of an Olympic wreath using native plants of their country.

Friends’ were glad to help Rachel and Hannah Rhaman to create their Olympic wreath designs using the plants on the Meadow. Hundreds of entries from around the world were submitted to the competition. You can learn more about how the girls did in our other article HERE. You can read more about the competition HERE.

An article about the Carnival Queen crowning on the town’s website includes pictures of many Meadow-made wreaths – click HERE.

Sisters shine in Olympic wreath competition

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Hannah and Rachel Rahman earned top spots in the international Olympic wreath competition.

Two Whitchurch students have claimed top spots in a global competition inspired by the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Last year the Botanic Garden Conservation International organisation announced a global competition for young people to create a design of an Olympic wreath using native plants of their country.

Rachel and Hannah Rhaman, who live in Kingsley Park and attend Whitchurch CofE Primary School and Testbourne respectively, entered the competition with wreaths created using plants found on the Meadow.

Hundreds of entries from around the world were submitted to the competition, which in the UK was organised by the Eden Project.

All the global finalists can be seen wearing their creations HERE.

Rachel’s wreath finished in the top 10 and Hannah’s won third place!

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Hannah's wreath was dedicated to the British Forest and was made of oak branches, dogrose and hawthorn.

NOT EASY

The task was not an easy one: The competition was announced at the end of October with the deadline for regional entries – at Eden Project – set for the end of December. There were not too many flowers at this time of year, and if you think of the colourful autumn leaves, it is amazing how very few of the foliage come from native British plants!

An unusually warm October allowed Rachel to use the last surviving wild flowers from the Meadow to create her masterpiece and out-compete beautiful exotic flower wreaths from China and Peru.

Hannah was desperately trying to be traditional and find some last surviving autumn flowers to include into her wreath. She was not very successful after the sharp morning frosts and went instead for an autumn berries theme wonderfully complementing her magnificent oak base. Her effort paid off: she was awarded third place and her wreath was the only one in the top 5 without a single flower in it!

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Rachel’s wreath was dedicated to the British Meadows and made of watercress, forget-me-nots, water mint and ox-eye daisies.

DESCRIBING THEIR PLANT CHOICES

In addition to making the actual wreath, both girls had to write an explanation as to why they chose the plants they did and what they may represent; The wreaths had to have a conservation message, too.

Rachel’s conservation message stated: “Water Meadows with their beautiful wild flowers should not be destroyed when roads and houses are needed; we need to keep them for future generations so people of the future can enjoy them as we are.”

The conservation message from Hannah was: “We need to protect the magnificent oak forests of England because they are full of beauty, history, legends and myths, and are the home for wild animals, beautiful birds and our national tree.”

Congratulations girls!

 

Privett plants Privet in Ogham Circle

The Privett family planted privet plants in the Meadow's Ogham Circle

The Millennium Green’s Ogham Circle embraces an ancient appreciation of Nature.

Every plant had a name, a time of the year and a special attribute. This concept was woven in many ways and sometimes something was applied that was applied to other woven works like Persian Carpets. One date in the year was missed out in a deliberate mistake.

Noel tries to find December 23rd on the Ogham Circle sign.

A local resident noticed his birthday was absent – December 23 – so Graham Burgess, the chairman of the Millennium Green Trust, suggested that his name Privett be celebrated in a separate special way by the planting of plants called Privet (Ligustrum). This was done on Sunday, 26 February 2012.

Graham Burgess assists the Privett family with the layout of the new plantings.

In the same way that the Ogham Circle celebrates the year of the meadow’s inauguration in 1999 using a metric measure of 19.99 metres, Noel has applied another measure – one that is special to his family and father – for spacing between the new trees. This spacing is not metric; imperial or the remen as used in Stonehenge but a unique measure formed by the three members of the Privett family joining hands.

The word also is played up by the formation of an entrance to the picnic area and the jambs are privets.


Other volunteers helped out on the same morning to plant more bushes and trees in various places around the Meadow. You are always welcome to get involved with the Meadow – whether it be doing plantings, tidying up, or managing the charity Trust – it is YOUR meadow. Click the ‘contact us’ link to get in touch.

Your Meadow Needs YOU! Join the Board of Trustees

The Trustees endeavour to create and maintain a more useable public open space.  Volunteers of the trust work all year to maintain various aspects of the meadow and in particular the indigenous wildlife and fauna.  The aim of the trustees is to provide a safe, comfortable and learning environment in which all members of the community can enjoy.

The Trustees are looking to recruit new Trustees to join their Board which currently consists of 4 independent trustees and 2 nominated trustees. We are interested in acquiring a range of skills to assist in the governance of the Millennium Green and would encourage people with skills in one or more of the following areas to apply: financial, grant raising, educational, marketing and horticultural; however, we would still like to hear from you if you simply have a desire and enthusiasm to help maintain and develop the Meadow

The time commitment will vary depending on how much you wish to contribute but the minimum is attending a monthly Trustee meeting, all meetings are held in the evening from 7.30pm – 9.00pm.

If you would like to discuss this opportunity in confidence, please call the Secretary, Phillippa Walther-Caine on 01256 896522 or email her at Phillippacaine@yahoo.co.uk; otherwise please submit your CV and covering letter to phillippacaine@yahoo.co.uk by 23 March 2012 which is the closing date of applications.  It is envisaged that interviews will be held during April 2012.

We look forward to hearing from you!

‘Stargazing Live’ at the Meadow

UPDATE: Cloud cover causes cancellation of the star gazing on the Meadow; but the talk goes ahead as planned.

As part of the BBC’s ‘Stargazing Live’ programme, Andover Astronomical Society is holding a public viewing (weather permitting) on the Millenium Meadow on Sunday, January 29th 2012, from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.  Society members will bring telescopes, through which members of the public can observe Venus, Jupiter, craters and mountains on the Moon, etc.  Afterwards, there will be a short illustrated talk in the Longmeadow Sports & Social Club.  The club has a licensed bar, and will serve hot cottage pie (£5).  If you want pie, you are advised to phone 0796 315 9273 beforehand.

Jupiter, photo by Dr. Paul Curtis, Andover Astronomical Society

In the event of bad weather, the public viewing will be cancelled, but the talk in the Sports and Social Club will still take place at 8 p.m.

The ground in the Meadow may be muddy, so wear wellies or stout shoes, and warm clothes.  If you are driving, please park in the Sports and Social Club car park opposite the Meadow.

The viewing is FREE, and is suitable for all ages.  BBC Stickers and Activity Cards will be available for children