As we look back on another year, it’s incredibly heart-warming to see how much we’ve achieved over the past 12 months.
Here we take a month-by-month look at a selection of highlights from our 2019 work and projects. Volunteers are at the heart of our organisation and work. All the success stories you read about below, were possible thanks to the help of our fantastic volunteers who continue to amaze us with their enthusiasm, dedication and determination to make the River Holme catchment a better place for people and wildlife.
Thanks also goes to our funding partners who have supported our work either financially or in kind, and to the other community groups and charities that we’ve partenered with throughout the year.
This year, volunteer, Sue Harrison, brought the River Holme to life for the world, creating month-by-month footage of our river as it changes through the year. You can watch all the episodes on our You Tube Channel.
Here are our highlights. We can’t possibly mention every event, so please share your favourite River Holme Connections moment from 2019 with us.
We started the year in style, by refurbishing the muddy, waterlogged footpaths at Bottoms Mill. Thanks to funding from Cobbett Environmental Ltd, through the Landfill Communities Fund, tonnes of crushed local stone was laid along the paths around this picturesque walk to improve access. It also encourages people to keep to the paths to avoid disturbing the wildlife.
Our extreme river clean-ups continued, and we finished the month with a fascinating bird walk and talk around Spa Wood, courtesy of Huddersfield Birdwatchers Club.
The lull before the storm! February was one of our quieter months for events. Our regular Third Saturday Work Party saw us clean up the River Holme by the King’s Mill Bridge. Back in the office, preparations were underway for our ‘mad March’. We were also busy interviewing candidates for the summer student placement role.
A landmark month in our charity’s history, March began with the official launch of the ‘Our Holme’ project funded by Cummins Turbo Technology Ltd. Several people braved the cold, wet weather to join us on a tour of Spa Wood. They also heard about our plans for improving the woodland environment and encouraging more local people to learn about, enjoy and care for this hidden green and blue oasis in the heart of Lockwood.
Our annual Open Day took place at The Old Bridge Hotel on 14th March. More people than ever before dropped in to find out more about our work and offer suggestions for further improvements.
The following day, we celebrated the official opening of 3 of our capital projects. Years of work and more than £100,000 was invested in refurbishing the path at Sands Recreation Ground, the Duck Feeding Area at Crown Bottom, Holmfirth and Bottoms Mill footpaths. Most satisfying of all was seeing people using and enjoying the new facilities.
Despite the busy schedule this month, we still found time to create a new woodland in Holme, planting 1,000 trees in the Peak District National Park to grow the White Rose Forest.
Team numbers swelled in April, when Ryan Lloyd, a Geographical Information Systems (GIS) student at Sheffield Hallam University, joined the team as our summer student placement, part of the Our Holme project. Ryan hit the ground running, or rather hit the water wading, as he began his work mapping the River Holme catchment, helped by willing volunteers.
With the weather improving, several volunteers took up our offer for free riverfly training. That gave them the skills to help us monitor the health of our local rivers.
One of the main objectives of the Our Holme project was to connect with young people and educate the next generation about our rivers and why we need to look after them. In May, more than 1,000 nursery, reception and primary school children had the opportunity to experience the river for themselves. As well as Our Holme, we got involved with STEAM (science, technology, engineering arts and maths) week at local schools. We brought the river to the classroom for younger pupils, while the older children enjoyed a River Explorer Day at Langsett, thanks to staff from the Peak District National Park Authority. Thanks also to First Bus who provided transport for the trips.
Our new website finally launched! Tom Aspinall, Moors for the Future, led a challenging walk across the moors and talked about their truly amazing conservation work. The school trips to Langsett continued, and our community events in Spa Wood commenced for local residents, with Nature’s Medicine: a look at the health benefits of plants and shrubs that grow in Spa Wood. This continued with Stone Carving and Forest Bathing, and finished with a Family Nature Quest.
The interactive, GIS maps produced by Ryan, went live on the website. This series of living maps show at-a-glance a range of information about our catchment, from where kingfishers are spotted to where invasive species have taken hold. It’s data that will allow us to target work more accurately and act as a benchmark for monitoring future changes to the river environment.
As giant hogweed reared its ugly head, Japanese knotweed started shooting up and Himalayan balsam began running wild throughout the catchment, our INNS Out (invasive non-native species) project really got going. As well as controlling miles of Japanese knotweed and bashing balsam, we started our replanting programme. Plant plugs, grown by our volunteers over the winter, were planted to replace the non-native species we’d removed.
We also said a fond farewell to Ryan. His placement came to an end and he took up a full-time position with RSPB Dovestone.
Our volunteers really stepped up this month. Sue Harrison organised a fantastic invitational cake and coffee day at Thongsbridge Cricket Club to raise money towards refurbishing the white bridge at Sands. Helped by volunteers and team members and lots of other people who baked cakes and joined in the quizes, Sue’s event raised more than £1,000. At the event, Mick Forster-Jones took plenty of orders for his 2020 River Holme calendar, featuring pictures from our Trustees, volunteers and his own library.
At the Newsome Fun Day, plenty of children visited our stand to try their hand at identifying the river bugs on display. Many also took part in our Yorkshire Water competition, designing posters that got the message across not to flush wipes and not to drop litter!
We finished off the month with an incredibly popular bat walk and talk around Bottoms Mill, thanks to members of the West Yorkshire Bat Group.
Our Yorkshire Water Blockage Busters and Litter Heroes competitions continued. The volunteers who we funded to become certified in the safe use of pesticides, were out and about in the catchment helping Simon to control Japanese knotweed.
We launched the Our Holme Festival, a two-day celebration of all things river-related at the University of Huddersfield.
The Our Holme Festival took place at the University of Huddersfield’s Learning Centre. Day 1 saw hundreds of people turn up for a series of talks from industry leading experts on subjects as diverse as ‘Saving the planet in the hills above Huddersfield’ and ‘Body in the water: the new science of forensic hydrology’. The talks were not only educational but highly entertaining and most definitely eye-opening. Moors from the Future also brought along its Bogtastic Bus to let people know how their conservation work is bringing the moorland environment back to life and helping in flood management.
On day 2, children from schools in Lockwood, Newsome and Crosland Moor joined us at the University for river-related activities. They visited the Bogtastic Bus, made lanterns, toured the University, learned about pollution affects river bugs and identified some of the bugs for themselves.
Dr Simpo from Ameliorate Animation judged our Yorkshire Water, Litter Heroes and Blockage Busters competition. The winning posters are displayed throughout the catchment telling people ‘Dont flush wipes’ and ‘Don’t drop litter’! Magna Science Adventure Park provided family tickets as prizes for the winners.
Our Bird Talk was pretty much a sell-out with people crowding into our Honley-based office to hear from Mike Denton of Huddersfield Birdwatching Club.
The Big Tree Plant began in December. Thanks to funding from the Bright Green Community Trust and Holmfirth Transition Town (HoTT), we’re planting 2,100 native trees and hedges this season. Work started at the beginning of December when we planted native hedges at Longley Farm, it continued with hedge and tree planting at Brow Lane and Black Sike Lane, Holmfirth.
For our Third Saturday Work Party, we’re at Meltham Pleasure Grounds. Earlier in the year, we worked with Friends of Meltham Pleasure Grounds to create a new picnic area and improve access to the river. The final work party of the year coincides with the official opening, giving us a chance to celebrate the work and thank all our volunteers for their help throughout the year.
That’s all for now, so we’d like to wish all our supporters, volunteers and friends a very happy Christmas and New Year.