Cathy Holden writes:
Funding for the upkeep of the pond is an ongoing problem and so the society was thrilled to receive a £1,000 donation from the Conservation Foundation.
It came about through Jo Howard, an employee of O2 who lives in Fleet and enjoys her walks around the pond. Jo spoke to our chairman, Colin Gray, regarding making a bid under the O2 ‘It’s Your Community’ scheme for a grant from the Conservation Foundation. They decided that the repair of the pathway between the Gelvert Stream and Coldstream Glade would be an ideal project (see map on About page above for locations). Jo submitted the idea and was thrilled when the Foundation agreed to donate £1,000 to the Society to buy the materials required for the job, with Hart District Council making up the shortfall of £375.
However, not satisfied with just organising the funding, Jo also arranged a group of fellow employees from O2 to provide the labour!
So on a sunny morning in May about 16 keen volunteers from O2, along with several members of Fleet Pond Society and the Hart Council Rangers responsible for the nature reserve gathered at the site. The rangers had already marked out where the edges of the footpath were to be, so the first job was to dig a trench either side of the pathway for the wooden supports to go in. Following on from this, nineteen tonnes of a mixture of sand and stone had to be shovelled onto the liner and raked out to within one inch of the top of the wooden planks on each side of the path. This was very hard work but everyone got down to it with much light-hearted banter.
During the morning we stopped work whilst the photographer from O2 got everyone organised for a photo of the presentation of the cheque (picture at the very top). After this, lunch beckoned and people drifted off to spots around the pond to eat their sandwiches, or to enjoy lunch at a local pub.
Once lunch was over it was back to laying the last of the sand and stone mixture, after which it was compacted with the flattening machine – which everyone wanted a go at (picture above). This was followed by the top dressing of gravel, which also had to be raked to a very smooth finish and compacted (picture below). As well as the pathway the team filled a few of the large dips in the track leading around from Coldstream Glade towards the field.
The Society and Rangers would like to thank Jo Howard and her O2 team for their work and initiative on this project and the Conservation Foundation for their generosity. It was very hard going, but everyone put their backs into it and the enthusiasm and laughter throughout the day made the task seem all the lighter. Many of the visitors enjoying a walk round the pond in the sunshine stopped to chat and were very impressed and appreciative of the hard work being put in by the volunteer team.
Picture credits: Cathy Holden