What's going on?

It's been a while since the last newsletter, mainly due to the start of the season and the work involved in making the sessions happen. There have been lots of changes this year in how the sessions are planned, booked, managed and attended, so plenty to do.

We are already halfway through the season. The weather has been pretty wet, but our sessions have all been held and well attended. The last session before Christmas on the 17th will be the 14th so far. A more detailed update on sessions below.

Can I take this opportunity on behalf of the whole Heartwood team to wish you a fantastic Christmas relaxing in front of those log fires dreaming of bow saws and brash piles. Have a lovely time and look forward to the second half of the season which starts on the 4th January.


Session Roles

The sessions this season have had a significant overhaul. With the attendance at sessions increasing (peaking at 26) the management required has also increased. You will be aware that we have session leaders, session supports, ATV drivers, Chainsaw Operators, First Aiders and on occasion clearing saw operators. The planning involved to ensure those roles are covered has become complex, with an obvious exposure on the number of people we have First Aid trained. We always ensure each Chainsaw operator has a FA buddy and with three saws frequently in use that means a similar number of FA partners.

Finding the numbers for FA cover has become an issue, so we will be running an FA training course probably in February, where we would like as many members to take the training as possible. Without the numbers of FA trained people we can have limits on capability at sessions, potentially affecting numbers who can attend and how much timber we produce. If you are able to get involved please let us know. The ongoing commitment is small as generally we draw FA cover from people who are already booked onto the sessions.

Woodland Award & Christmas Quiz

Earlier in the Autumn we were awarded the community woodland prize as part of the "Woodlands.co.uk" annual awards. It's great recognition for the group and all of the members.

There were a number of prizes associated with the award which we decided to offer to members as part of a simple Christmas Quiz. Just guess the number of volunteer hours we have accumulated during October and November. The guesses were wide and varied, the actual figure being 1291. Answers ranged from 156 to 3780. Coincidentally two people were the exact number away, one below and one above, so it came down to names out of the hat. Here are the results:-

  • 1st Prize - "Wilding" a book by Isabel Tree - Dave Carpenter
  • 2nd Prize - A fire lighting steel - Jeff Newman
  • 3rd Prize - An enamel mug - Helen Carpenter
  • 4th Prize - A note book - Jay Trivedy
  • 5th Prize - A tea Towel - Julie Starkey
  • 6th prize - Collapsable dog water bowl - Helen Gravett

I will bring the prizes along to sessions you are booked onto as soon as possible or you are welcome to collect. Kevin

WoodlandsAward 2019 12

Taster Days & Membership

We held a successfull taster day at the beginning of the season with a further session planned on the 15th December, both at Donisthorpe Woodland Park. It's be very encouraging to welcome so many new people to these sessions and the to meet them again as members at their induction. Maintaining and growing the membership has been very successful over the last two seasons with the total number of people now on our list being around 140.

Membership was an important topic of discussion again at the AGM in September. We have been considering how to make the membership more "formal" to ensure we have clear records on who is part of the group. This hasn't been a real issue to date, but we do want to make sure everyone is clear on the group constitution and what is expected of us all as members. To this end we will be working on a simple signing-on web page which will be introduced as part of the conversion of the group to a CIC (Community Interest Company) in the new year. There was a full explanation of what the conversion means and why we are at a stage where this is the right thing to do at the AGM. Anyone who isn't clear on this or wants to know more please speak to one of the committee.

Session updates & progress

With half of the season under our belts its a good time to reflect. By the time we reach the Christmas break we will have completed 14 sessions with further 19 planned in the new year. That will mean around 270 attendances by members and approx 210 boot loads of wood - substantial achievement of logistics and effort from everyone involved.

Progress in the woodland against our grant targets is around about where Graham expected us to be. A large area in the centre at Woodcote is complete, a large amount of edge has been thinned and we have moved into two other areas where we are making excellent progress.

We owe a great deal to Graham and Simon for keeping on top of where we are working in the woodland, the state of the ground and its management and ensuring we have sufficient timber for the attendees. Thank you to them both for their behind-the-scenes effort.

Most of you will be aware that we have tried to reduce the impact of chainsaw use on session attendees. It will be interesting to get feedback on this from everyone, so please discuss improvements or issues with the session leads. We are always keen to make sure the events are not only productive, but create the sort of environment in the woods that we all enjoy.

On the 2nd December Graham hosted David Logan who is the Woodland Trust ranger for the woodlands in this area. The feedback from him was very positive and gives us the green light to carry on with what we are doing at Woodcote. We will be working with David to create a longer term plan for the woodlands we are able to work in, with one further season at Woodcote already agreed.

Corporate Day

Our first official corporate day was held in November with the management team from Highcross shopping centre in Leicester spending the day with us at CEEP. The team spent the morning learning how to carry out thinning as we are all used to doing, followed by a soup and bread lunch next to the cozy log burner and finally an afternoon of charcoal making and timber processing. The feedback has been excellent.

We are hoping that corporate days will become an important income stream for the group. Many companies are looking for team building experience days and we have a great deal to offer. Over the next few weeks we will be producing a full menu of options, including green woodworking skills provided by Darren Abell, all options that we feel will provide an interesting and rewarding day in the woodland environment. If you or your friends and family work in a business that would like to spend time with us please share what we can do with them. Packages can be created to meet the needs of everyone.

Highcross Shopping Centre Corporate Day 2019 12

CEEP Working Party

The working party days at CEEP have been a very rewarding experience for all who have managed to come along. A great deal of work has gone into creating a headquarters for Heartwood which provides a relaxing and peaceful environment. Our first corporate day was based here and the plan is that we create a semi-permanent shelter area over the coming weeks which will broaden the options we have for our own use and those of visitor days.

We have amassed quite a store of firewood at CEEP so we have agreed with the guys at CEEP to them selling our wood for their funds and a plan to replace over the coming months with effort from the CEEP participants. I'm sure you will agree a very worthy cause and one close to Heartwood hearts. We plan to start taking a bay from each session up to CEEP s we can start processing again after Christmas.