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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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October 2019

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September 2019

September 2019

24 Sep 2019

Today eighteen mainly young people from the international accountancy firm Ernst & Young came to Rushall Manor for the day.  They are encouraged to take two volunteering days each year as part of their contract.  If everyone took up this opportunity, the 500 strong work force based in Reading could contribute 1000 days into charitable projects in and around Berkshire.

We were the fortunate choice for their hard labour on this occasion.  It was a chance to put the finishing touches to this stage of the Oaklands project, raking down and seeding with wildflowers around the newly converted building.  Others tackled the area around the pond, vigorously swinging what was described by one as “a blade on the end of a piece of wood” (i.e. a slasher) to remove mountains of blackberry bushes and prune this year’s growth on the willows.

This was the third volunteer group we have had this week.  Thatcham Green Gym did an amazing job on Monday trimming hedges and weeding paths, while on Tuesday the very focused West Berks Countryside Volunteers launched a sustained attack on the brambles in Rushall Copse which seem determined to invade this outstanding bluebell wood. The one sign uniting these groups is a large amount of wood smoke billowing across the Pang Valley as evidence that something is happening.  But something else is also taking place. The folk coming enjoy the activity and exercise as they do the physical work.  There is also the satisfaction of working together as a group, having conversations and standing back to admire the fruits of your labour.   It might not be the Amazon rainforest that is being tackled but Rushall is a really old farm site surrounded by ancient woodland.  It is interesting that when Peter Cuss from Bradfield College did a moth survey one night in July, he was amazed to find 109 different species, two of which were very rare. Fifty would be a very good number normally so there is good progress here as a result of the work of the volunteers.

The other day one of our teaching staff arrived for work very upset, having just heard the latest government announcement. She felt frustrated and powerless like many.  I asked her what she was doing today.  As it happened, she was looking after 6 children from refugee families in Battersea and this was the start of a three-day camp.   “There you are.  What a wonderful opportunity you have to make a profound difference in those young people’s lives.” It is just the same for those from Ernst & Young and the other volunteers because we can make a difference to the world, we live in. And interestingly it also does us good.