We are delighted to announce that our new charity partner is The National Forest and we plan to help them plant 90,000 trees by 2017.
The National Forest stretches across 200 square miles of Staffordshire, Derbyshire and Leicestershire, blending new planting with ancient woodland and our support centre in Moira is located at the heart of it. You can find out more about The National Forest and how we are supporting them here on our website.
But the National Forest are not the only charity we work with, as we ourselves found out when we asked the teams at our 9 UK locations who they support in their local area. The sheer volume and variety of their charitable work astounded us. That quiz you entered at the Forest Retreat? That was probably raising money for the local Air Ambulance. The look of concentration on your Forest Ranger’s face? He could be counting newts for the local Wildlife Trust. Here is just a sample of what’s going on around the country:
Many of the charities reflect the passions of the team and it is no surprise to see wildlife, forests and conservation at the top of the list.
For instance, Sherwood Forest are celebrating Moth Night (9th-11th June) in partnership with Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust. Guests are invited to record and monitor moth activity and hopefully learn something new.
Gerry, Forest Ranger at the Forest of Dean, has taken the plight of hedgehogs to heart and his recent half marathon and other activities raised over £360 for the British Hedgehog Preservation Society. He works with the society on an ongoing basis and helps them to get their message across as part of his Forest Ranger activities.
Gerry also works with the Butterfly Conservation Trust, the local Love your Forest Campaign and will shortly be involved with running Forest School classes at the local community school. We are beginning to wonder where his energy comes from!
All our locations have links with their local Wildlife Trusts and with other ecology organisations and our Forest Rangers are regularly carrying out surveys, monitoring everything from butterflies and moths to rare wild flowers.
Search, rescue and medical help
Many essential support services rely heavily on donations and it is often a surprise to people that the wonderful work of the Air Ambulances is entirely funded by charitable donations. Most of our locations support their local Air Ambulance, whether it’s the £1 donations to take part in the quiz at Cropton, or the £1000 raised at an Easter Fair organised by Thorpe Forest.
Some of our locations are close to the coast, moors and mountains, so Argyll, for instance, collect for the RNLI and Strathyre and Blackwood Forest both help their local search and rescue dog charities. At Blackwood Forest this extends to the charity using the forest for monthly rescue dog training sessions.
Deerpark have particularly close links with Front Line Emergency Equipment Trust (FLEET) who have the admirable objective of placing a lifesaving defibrillator in every Cornish community. This partnership has been ongoing for some years and has seen the placement of 3 defibrillators in towns nearby with a fourth well on its way.
Schools and community organisations
Many of our locations are actively involved with local schools and community organisations, raising money, introducing people into the forest and helping out. Blackwood Forest have strong links with the local school who use the facilities for events, and a recent fun run also raised £1500 for the pre-school. Gail, the tireless Forest Ranger, also runs bush craft events for local Beaver and Brownie groups.
Back over at the Forest of Dean and last year, the team hosted a fun day for Forest Pulse, a charity which supports disabled children and their families. And at Deerpark, they recently received thank you letters from every child in Year 1 at the local school, after a day of shelter building, foraging, making forest faces and craft activities.
And the Breckland Fit Together Walking Group has this to say about Thorpe Forest: “We use Thorpe Forest about 5-6 times a year for our health walks and we are extremely happy with the professional caring attitude of all the employees that we’ve met there.”
We confess to being proud of our people!
This is just a flavour of the countless contributions our teams are making within their local communities and we have to admit, it makes us very proud of them. None of this is “driven from head office” - all of it comes from the hearts, minds and passions of individuals. Well done all and keep up the good work!
If you would like to support our efforts to help the National Forest plant 90,000 trees, simply pledge a £3 donation when you book your Forest Holiday and as you relax in the forest you will know that another tree has been planted because of you. Already the response has been overwhelming and we would like to say thank you to everyone who has donated.