Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Henllys Church in Wales Eco Heroes

Henllys Church in Wales have come down a couple of times in the last few weeks to make big impacts on Henllys Local Nature Reserve. Firstly, 30 children from year 1 came out to plant some bulbs and mulch around the reserve's mini-orchard. Secondly, the After School Eco-Club then came down on Friday 13th to construct an Otter Holt with the Friends of Henllys LNR.
Year 1 bulbs and mulchers

 The 5-6 year olds were disappointed not to be able to come out in the summer for a bug hunt due to bad weather. However, they really wanted to come out again and although we postponed this in October, it was third time lucky for the children.

Getting loppers in place to make pegs for the mulch mats
At the beginning of 2013, we received 10 local variety apple trees from Gwent Wildlife Trust and planted them out under their advice. Over the summer, the grass grew around all the trees creating a little bit of competition with our trees. At the end of July, the meadow was cut and probation came in and raked up a load of the grass and wildflowers. The children made good use of one of these piles and collected some of the rotted grass for the mulch. First, however, the children put down a mulch mat membrane and pegged the mats down using ash twigs cut from a previously thinned out tree. Under supervision they all had a go at using a pair of loppers purchased from a Keep Wales Tidy \voucher scheme. The well-rotted grass was then added on top of the mulch mat.
Apple tree inspection
 "The children were buzzing. I had fab parent feedback today so huge thank you to Friends of Henllys LNR." - Mrs. Sulway, Year 1 teacher.
Mulch mat, pegged and mulched over
"It was great to have these children on the LNR, doing extremely valuable conservation work. They could have collected leaves or done bark rubbings, but it shows that they are also capable of doing really good practical work too" - Chris Partridge, Friends of Henllys LNR

Eco_Club Otter Holt builders

The Friends of Henllys LNR, part built the holt using materials felled with Torfaen Council as part of the management plan and did as much preparation work as possible to help smooth the holt's construction. We started off the afternoon with a risk assessment done by the children and agreed a plan to work safely, including cutting back a low lying branch from the holt area to protect our eyes. We also had to work very carefully as we were near the stream and a steep bank.

"It was so much fun I really liked using the tools and sawing wood with Chris" - Laila Baxter
Checking the walls
The children had to organise themselves into building a wall each and work out how to stake the sides and make sure there weren't any really big gaps which would create draughts for any animals inside. They also had to build up a maze inside and cut some of the logs to size to fit the maze. Finally, they split into 2 groups, the collectors and the thatchers. The collectors had to bring the roofing material to the stream and the thatchers had to build the roof up. We just ran out of time to finish off the roof, so the Friends will do that before Christmas.
Group shot with holt without the roof on
It was great fun and made a start on the children learning to work safely outdoors, with risks from tools, weather conditions and location and they did really well.

"It was really muddy and lots of fun. I enjoyed putting the sticks on top of the otter holt" - Andrew  McCorkindale 

"It was brilliant, the best bit was passing the sticks over the stream" - Evie Philips

The weather was pretty poor in the afternoon, but an email from Eco-Coordinator Mrs. Sulway saying that the kids really wanted to come out even if it was raining was very heartening. It did rain and they got very wet and muddy, but laughed the whole time.
Holt done
"I thought it was great that all these children got really stuck in doing something that we did with a group of very experienced adults did a month earlier on the LNR. With more practice, the children will develop these skills which can only be beneficial for the children and the school in the long run. I was really impressed, especially seeing their muddy faces at the end, only to find when I got home, mine was exactly the same" Chris Partridge, Friends of Henllys LNR

"The children have had a great experience whilst completing the Otter Holt project. The building of the Otter Holt not only allowed the children to develop their knowledge and understanding of the local area, but it helped the children to develop their team building skills." - Mr Durbin, Headteacher. Henllys Church in Wales Primary School

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