Chinbrook Community Orchard Volunteers are a small, informal, and enthusiastic group of individuals who help manage the orchard on a day-to-day basis.

The group were awarded £1,000 Our Space Award funding for a project to restore two wildlife ponds, which were created in 1991, but had become stagnated and overgrown. The group worked over the autumn 2018 and January 2019 to add a suitable liner to the pond, and to help re-introduce new native species in and around the pond.

When asked about her favourite moment of the project, Margaret the lead volunteer said:

working alongside a wonderful and committed team and seeing the amazing results we have achieved. Also seeing the response from everyone who comes and visits our incredible orchard.

The project hasn’t always been easy, the volunteers struggled to measure the pond liner levels to ensure it was even, and the liner turned out to be heavier than previously thought. To add insult to injury, a fox also damaged the pond liner, so the group had to repair this and cover the liner edge with hessian to protect it from further damage.

Despite the hurdles, Margaret was impressed by how incredibly quickly the wildlife returned to the new habitats, and there is now a lot of interest from new people who want to volunteer and enjoy what has been accomplished. A local school are even organising a return visit to sketch the wildlife in the ponds.

If Margaret was to offer any advice to applicants she would say: “plan your project but go for it – you will learn so much and feel so much pride in what you achieve. Our project is helping connect people with wildlife and it’s amazing how fulfilling this is.” She would also say to consider creating social media accounts (like Instagram) to help record a diary of your progress and promote your project to potential volunteers and funders.