By Sue Atkinson, Malden Manor resident and member of the community group
The local community group in Malden Manor (supported by Sustrans charity – encouraging walking and cycling) invited their neighbourhood to some Easter holiday fun activities outdoors to enjoy their neglected green spaces around the Hogsmill River that flows through the area.
Free supplies of woodchip were delivered and local community people bought their wheelbarrows and spades and covered the wet and muddy paths making the meadows more accessible for the children and also for our local dog walkers. Children and parents were seen in the copses collecting lichen covered twigs, listening to the sound of the river and spotting kingfishers to attempt to win a selection of prizes! Our local fishermen and river enthusiasts collected river creatures and small fish for children to view.
Children were shown how to construct and paint bird boxes donated by Thames Water which they could take home. A local ecologist, Alison Fure, led a nature walk and explained how urban areas are encroaching on our green spaces and inspired us to love them and protect them.
More than 200 people attended different events – nature quizzes, obstacle courses, meeting the creatures of the river and perhaps the highlight – a night bat walk to spot the local wildlife with Elliot Newton from the Environment Trust. There was a great moment when 77 people in their welly boots shining torches, crossed the bridge over the river into Six Acre Meadow and saw bats darting across from tree to tree. We have yet to spot the shyer animals that roam through the area – don’t tell anyone or they might not!
An ongoing project assisted by Kingston Forest School leader Cath, continues – Willow Arch Building – where she showed us how to stroke the willow sticks to make them bend into shape. Still under construction, our neighbours from the Sunray estate are watering the willow every day as it is a growing structure, enticing people in to the green space, to walk along the river. (volunteers needed).
We are also lucky enough to have a mosaic project (with charitable funds) taking place this year under the railway bridge and Kim , the artist responsible for co-ordinating this showed children and adults an example of some of the ideas she had collected from local people which would help to make the area near the playground brighter and safer.
Malden Manor Community Church organised an easter egg hunt, bouncy castle, crafts and games on the green making it easy for families to come together and safely play outside and regularly organise events in the school holidays.
It’s a great moment to live in Malden Manor – all the community groups are coming together and the rail network is allowing them to use the station shop as a community hub so watch this space and find out how you can join in!
Find out more at: www.maldenmanor.co.uk