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"We all learnt a great deal about Farming - it helped the children to understand the idea of Farming more. A real hands on experience!"

By Reading School Year 4 teacher

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April 2019

April 2019

23 Apr 2019

This weekend a group of 20 adults and 10 children from Forest School Camps (FSC) have been here on a work party.  They come twice a year, and in October had demanded more than cutting brambles as their main task. So, encouraged by the flurry of activity at Rushall Manor, they have built a log store, made a new walk way onto the main track, cut back around the old cottage site and the pond has a new floating island complete with spacious accommodation for a duck.

FSC were key in the development of the Manor Site.  We had applied for planning consent to convert the derelict site, which would have involved raising very large sums of money, just after John Simonds died in 1983. It was refused, but at the same time a group of 10 young people from Theale Green School made the beautiful permitted path through the woods to the farm buildings. That summer an FSC international work party came, involving 40 young people from UK and all over Europe, particularly Poland, Russia and the Czech Republic, countries behind the Iron Curtain. Some of the UK contingent from that first camp ware here this weekend, and we are still in contact with those abroad now married with grown up children. For ten years FSC arranged these work camps and we did basic restoration of the buildings and site. We learnt the important lesson that if the Trust was serious about encouraging leadership, self confidence and mutual respect in young people this was a fantastic way to achieve that aim.

And so the tradition of working with volunteers has continued; Bradfield College, Prospect School, Brookfield and Castle Special Schools, young people on DoE Schemes, and the not so young Thatcham Green Gym, CROW, and the West Berkshire Countryside Society Volunteers.  Last week 27 from WBCSV cleared and burned top wood and brash from the work we have done on tree safety.  Over the last few years they have widened the main ride through the woodlands going up to Scratchface Lane by cutting hazel and silver birch.  Our large population of deer complete the task by grazing any regrowth so that grasses initially invade the barren area.  This is quickly followed by foxgloves, wood spurge (habitat for the very rare Drab looper moth), primroses, wood anemones, violets, celandines and bluebells. This healthy mixture of vegetation provides an excellent habitat for invertebrates and then the mammals and birds all thrive. It is all to see so come on down, park up at Rushall Manor and let your soul be refreshed and renewed at this amazing time of year!

John Bishop