Friends of Lees Lane Ponds

Neston, Cheshire

Your story

Friends of Lees Lane Ponds are a green community group looking after the Ponds area for the enjoyment of all.

Group introduction

We are a dedicated group of volunteers enhancing the environment around historic Lees Lane Ponds and increasing the enjoyment of local residents, walkers, horse riders and cyclists. We are also improving our knowledge about wildlife in the Ponds and sharing this on schools and community visits and events.
Our aims are to improve plant and wildlife, promote good site management and share our knowledge about the Ponds. To achieve this we are involving the public and local residents, forming work parties, organising events, raising awareness amongst visitors and undertaking environmental studies. We have developed a management plan to set out what we want to achieve for each part of the landscape.
Over the last two years we have successfully run twelve events and have an established calendar throughout the year. Our Easter Egg hunts have an environmental message and are enjoyed by streams of children and parents. Pond-dipping events are very popular with local schools’ eco-clubs and special holiday sessions. We have organised Bat Walks which have identified 5 different species. Each autumn we hold Apple Fest days when people bring their own apples to turn into delicious juice. A highlight this year was a Dawn Chorus walk when we saw and heard 20 different bird species.
We have pruned several mature apple trees with experts training over 50 volunteers. We organised local children to plant additional apple trees funded by the Tree Council’s Orchard Windfalls grant. During regular morning work sessions we have planted an “Edible” hedge to demark what is now a thriving community orchard. This is inspiring people to plant their own fruit trees.

How would this funding have an impact on your community?

We have a pressing need to provide equipment to improve hospitality for visits and events. We would like to kit out our on-site cabin with hand-washing unit and catering facilities including cups, plates and cutlery (£300 for combi unit). We also want to provide a mobile toilet similar to those used in a caravan (£200 contribution to provide screening).
Our questionnaire amongst users identified that groups would like to stay for longer than 1 hour and also be more inclusive towards groups with special needs. Our activities range from pond-dipping and learning about pond eco-systems, to bird watching, bat-walks and nature walks; all of which are curtailed to 1 hour because we have no toilet facilities.
These facilities would attract more people and build on our success so far. In our first 2 years our combined attendance at events exceeds 900 children and 750 adults.
We have plans for more. An outdoor classroom is nearing completion ( with groundwork assistance from local Skipton staff on an outreach day !). Interest is strong from groups such as the 3 local primary schools, a local care home and sheltered housing, scouts and guides and Wirral Footpath Society.
We have established links to the local history groups, Cheshire Wildlife Trust, Chester Zoo and Ness Gardens as we research the history and flora / fauna of the Ponds / marl pits.
Our local community will benefit in the following ways:
The 3 primary schools within walking distance come to explore the ponds and wildlife
Children will come on wildlife and pondlife events – fun learning about the environment
Families will better understand and appreciate their local environment hot-spot
Exercisers will use the area for healthy, active Neston.
Adults with learning difficulties can come for therapeutic outdoor activities
Visitors will be informed about the special character and history of the Ponds.

"“Friends of Lees Lane Ponds is a fantastic example of local volunteers working to improve the lives of their community. They are transforming a neglected part of the Wirral Way into a thriving outdoor community space. I am pleased that local schools have participated and local residents are working together to restore and expand the ponds, woodland and orchard for all ages to enjoy.“
Louise Gittins, Deputy Leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council and Cabinet Member for Communities and Well-being"

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