I hope this letter finds you and your family keeping safe and well.

Within Heartwood we have been working on a number of very significant developments that affect everyone within the group. All have been discussed at length by the committee, with this email being a resultant action of that discussion. Ordinarily we would have called an extraordinary or special meeting to bring everyone together, but circumstances mean we must communicate with everyone by whatever means we can.

Nether Hall Wood

A few weeks ago I wrote to you regarding the management of Nether Hall Wood. I was overwhelmed by the number of replies and the positive comments from many of the members. As a result we have agreed that this is a project we should progress. We will now be contacting the Woodand Trust to discuss the details of a 3rd party management contract. I’ll keep you all informed as this develops


CEEP

Many of you will know that CEEP is based at Hall Farm near Ashby. The site is managed by the CEEP project who have always looked after Heartwood by providing us with space to store/run the charcoal burner, store firewood and most importantly store the quad and trailer. We still rely a great deal on the good will of members to store and move our equipment.

Sadly the CEEP project will draw to a close at the end of June. There are a few reasons, but finance is the significant one. This potentially presented us with a big headache, but it may actually open a new door for us and present us with many opportunities. The landowner has already kindly agreed to sign-over the land for our use and there is negotiation to be done regarding the quad storage and the potential use of the mess room, but again the committee have agreed we should progress to explore rental costs and opportunities.

This is a big step for us. We have always hoped that a suitable site for a Heartwood HQ could be found and it looks like this could be it. Many of you will not have visited the site, so I will put together more detail on what this may offer you as a member at a later date, but at this time your views would be appreciated.


Membership

The other significant change is the introduction of a Heartwood membership fee.

Being a member of this group gives us:-

  • Access to a logs for labour scheme
  • The ability to be part of a "contractor" standard organisation recognised by the Nations Forest, Woodland Trust and NWLDC
  • Access to local woodlands to gather firewood legally and safely
  • Membership of a community group making new friends and meeting like minded people
  • The opportunity to look after local woodlands & wildlife with hands-on activities
  • Access to training
  • Access to group learning and knowledge sharing about management of woodlands and woodfuel
  • Shared knowledge and learning opportunities for crafts and green wood skills
  • An environment to keep fit
  • Being part of a group managing a community woodland - Nether Hall Wood

Our constitution has always stated that the membership fee will be set at the AGM, but we have not introduced it to date as we did not want or indeed need money in the bank that is not assigned for running costs or future projects. We have moved on a great deal over the last 12 months and the introduction of a fee is now appropriate to ensure we maintain our self-sufficient status as grant schemes come and go.

As we hopefully develop the Heartwood HQ there will be further benefits for us all. The terms of the membership and what level the fee is set at is yet to be agreed and will be influenced by the views everyone.

We will never turn anyone away - as a community group any member who cannot meet the membership fee will have a confidential agreement put in place to ensure they remain part of the group.

On this important matter can I ask that everyone replies to me with their views. I am happy to take as many phone calls or to answer as many emails as it takes to get your views and cover any points/concerns/ideas you may have.


PPE

One final point I would like to mention is that next season we will be asking everyone to provide their own PPE (helmet and gloves - high vis could still be provided by us and issued with our name on). This is an obvious development with the virus issues we currently have and will help plan how our sessions can be introduced and prevent some of the potential delays if restrictions are still in place. We will provide more information and advice on quality and sources later in our newsletter.


In Summary

I believe all of these matters make us stronger as a group, drive Heartwood forward with a robust financial plan and provide a huge opportunity for anyone within the group to participate in a wide range of activities and interests. My request to everyone is please respond on these matters, contact me by whatever means suits you best to discuss.