Friends Of Park Wood Hellingly

News 2022

13th August 2022 – Chairman’s Report

We now have a dozen or so people on the volunteer register, which doesn’t seem a lot, considering the number of members we send these reports out to. If you are still not sure about coming forward, I will emphasise again, that putting your name forward does not tie you down to any specific times, or dates, just that you are willing to help, when you are available.

I have a meeting next week with Louise, from the Environment Agency to discuss how we can best work together on looking after the wood and I will report on this next month.  I can also report that two of your committee members have carried out their own survey, in the last couple of days, on the feasibility of reinstating “Maggie’s Bridge, looking at the access route, from the western side of the wood. This is being carried out in order to assess whether we should go ahead with paying for a professional survey, out of FoPWH. funds. Again, I hope to be able to report on this next month.

Finally, I would just like to reassure people about what is happening to the wood, in this prolonged dry spell, as there has been a lot of misinformation appearing on Facebook and in other media sources.  There has been a lot of concern over the “Autumn Effect” i.e. the trees shedding their leaves. This is not the trees dying, as has been claimed, but the trees protecting themselves, by withdrawing the supply of nutrients to the leaves, so conserving its supply of moisture and nutrients, to keep itself healthy. I have seen this effect many times over the years, as I am sure, many of you have, during prolonged dry spells and can assure you that too much water has a much more devastating effect than too little, just look at the devastation caused by the flooding on the NHS. land adjacent to the path down from the car park, not one tree has survived.  In spite of what the press and media doom merchants have been saying, things will soon get back to normal, when the dry spell finishes. there has been so much hype and inaccurate reporting, that it is no surprise that people are confused. Never was the saying, “Don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story” more true.

Enjoy the the cool and pleasant walks in the beauty of Park Wood and allow nature to take care of itself, as it always does.

Paul Rees​ – Chairman FoPWH

17th July 2022 – Chairman’s Report

Thank you to all those that put their names forward for the volunteer register. Your emails should all have been replied to, acknowledging your interest. I am sure there must be many more of you who are reasonably fit and able to spare a little time to do some light maintenance in the wood.

In case you missed my appeal last month, I asked for people who could spare some time occasionally, to carry out a little light maintenance work in the wood, to put their names forward, to go on a register of volunteers. This does not commit you to anything, it simply means that you agree to be contacted to see if you are available, when a working party is required. This will usually be over a weekend and can be a family affair. Tools will be provided, there will be a group leader, qualified in first aid and it will be covered by our own insurance. Needless to say, these events will be approved by the Environment Agency.  Don’t be shy, come along and meet new friends, while helping to keep the wood safe and looking good. Contact Rachel, at the Park Wood email address and add your name to the register.

I have referred in the past to our desire to replace the small footbridge, colloquially known as, Maggie’s Bridge, which would reinstate the walk to the big Beech tree, from the West (car park) side of the wood. Our other new committee member, John, has under taken the job of carrying out a feasibility study and has come up with some reasonable costings for a prefabricated, wooden footbridge. The next stage is to have a structural engineer survey the site, in order to cost the preparation of the site, prior to installation If we have anybody among our members, suitably qualified to carry out this task, or if any of you can recommend such a person, please contact John, at the Park Wood email address.

Once this is done, I can present the completed study to the EA. and see if my powers of persuasion can get this important route reinstated as soon as possible. Finance is not an issue and I am optimistic that this is an achievable objective.

Finally,  it has been suggested that we should do the Countryfile, Children In Need Walk this year. This is usually held in mid October and as soon I have the details, I will post them here and on Facebook. If there is sufficient interest we will offer two walks, one fairly short and on easy terrain and one longer and a little more challenging, so that we cater for all abilities.

Kind regards.

Paul Rees – Chairman FoPWH.

25th June 2022 – Chairman’s Report

Things are fairly quiet at the moment, with little to report, other than that there has been no progress regarding the flooding issue, which probably means that we will be suffering yet another winter of difficult access to the wood.

One issue that has cropped up again, is the problem of dog fouling on footpaths and also bags of dog waste being left in the wood. Please, IF YOU ARE NOT GOING TO BIN IT DON’T BAG IT. and if your dog fouls the footpath, at the very least, “stick and flick”.   The majority of us are proud of our wood and treat it with respect. It is a valuable and unique community asset for all to enjoy, so please help to maintain it as a green and pleasant place for all.

I have mentioned before that we would like to form a register of those that are fit, willing and able to join working parties, carrying out low level maintenance in the wood. We now have three new committee members, following my appeal in a previous report and between them, they have agreed to set up and administer a register.  Putting your name and email address on the register does not commit you to any specific dates, it just means that you are willing to be contacted, when a working party is required, to see if you are available for a particular date and time.  If we can establish a reasonable number of potential volunteers, it will enable us to work more effectively in carrying out improvements to paths and infrastructure, in the wood, while at the same time, increasing our involvement with the EA.  Working groups can involve, families, including supervised children and groups, such as scouts and guides, even Duke of Edinburgh Award candidates, on certain projects.  All working parties will have a group leader, qualified in first aid and all necessary equipment will be provided. These sessions will be authorised by the EA. and will be covered by our own Public Liability insurance.

The few working parties that have taken place so far have been run by TCV., using our members to form the working parties. These have had a limited success, due to poor publicity and communication, although, those that took part found it an enjoyable experience, giving them an opportunity to meet new people, while, at the same time, helping to look after the wood and get some, not too strenuous exercise.
Please give some thought to putting your name forward if you are fit enough to carry out some light manual work and can spare a few hours from time to time. The success of this initiative is dependant on sufficient numbers putting their names on the register and it would be helpful if you could state how many in your household, or family wish to be included.Please email your details to; stating that you wish to be placed on the volunteer register and you will be contacted by a member of the committee, when a working party is required.

Kind regards

Paul Rees – ChairmanFOPWH

16th May 2022 – Chairmans Report

My apologies for the late arrival of this month’s report, but I had hoped to be bringing you news of progress on the flooding issue, but alas, this is still at an impasse, due to a lack of cooperation from Hellingly Parish Council.  Bunny Run Nursery, the Environment Agency, NHS. Estates and Wealden District Council, have all agreed to a meeting, to discuss possible solutions to the problem, however HPC. seem to be ignoring all emails on the subject, from whatever source.  I have sent several emails, on behalf of FoPWH. and visited the Parish Council offices, to try and move things along, all without any response. Strange behaviour, in view of the undisputed evidence that the flooding is caused by the new Community Hub building and certainly reflects badly on the Parish Council. It now seems increasingly likely that legal action will have to be taken against HPC. which makes it unlikely that the problem will be resolved before the rains return in the Autumn.

To more cheerful news, following last month’s appeal for volunteers to help out on the committee, I can report that we now have three new members on the committee, as a result of this. Welcome Kat, Rachel and John, who came along to a committee meeting and were all enthusiastic about getting involved in helping to expand our activities and influence regarding Park Wood. I expect this to enable us to organise some family activities during the summer, offer some help to the EA. with paths maintenance and conduct a feasibility study into the construction of a replacement footbridge, to reopen the path to the big Beech tree.

We will shortly be putting out a request for members and friends to put their names forward for inclusion on a register of volunteers, willing to help with maintenance work. This would not commit anybody to specific dates, simply, that you would be willing to be contacted to see if you were available for a particular day, or weekend.

As I am sure many of you will have noticed, the EA. have been busy in the wood, erecting new posts, for the direction arrows, signing the designated paths and hopefully banishing the problem of walkers, new to the wood, getting lost. To this end, one or two paths have had to be temporarily closed, in order to be made safe for walkers.  They have also erected new ecology signs at the East and West entrances to the wood, shortly to be followed by maps, showing the new paths layout, recently agreed between us.

All this activity and interest in the wood, not to mention the financial investment by the EA. plus, the closer working relationship, we now have with them, can only be seen as a positive sign for the long-term future of the wood and a vindication for the existence and effort, put in over the years by the Friends of Park Wood.  I honestly believe that none of these recent works would have happened without us and by us, I mean you, the members, who have supported and encouraged us since 2017 and I hope that, when you walk in the wood, that you feel a sense of pride in what has been achieved so far.

Paul Rees – Chairman FoPWH

The car park is open and it looks fantastic.

Many thanks to the Environment Agency for funding the work, which looks to be an environmentally friendly, state of the art, solution to the ongoing problems we have had with the car park and not a bit of tarmac anywhere.

11th April 2022 – Chairman’s Report

I am sure many of you are finding it very inconvenient, not having the use of the car park at the moment. I can report however, that work is progressing well and that the inconvenience will be well worth it in the long run, as there will no longer be the risk of car damage, or falls, caused by the deep ruts that appeared after heavy rainfall.

Following the paths survey, we are expecting to be involved in the siting of new way markers, in the near future, giving those unfamiliar with the wood, the confidence to explore it, without the worry of getting lost.

Our thanks to all those that took part in the TCV run paths clearance. Feedback suggests that, those that took part enjoyed the experience. It did however, raise questions as to how effective it was, given that it has to be financed by the Environment Agency from their limited budget, allocated for Park Wood.  This question was discussed at a recent FoPWH. committee meeting and it was felt, that our direct involvement could possibly produce a larger and therefore, more effective, volunteer work force. It has been suggested to me that the local Scout group might wish to become involved and other groups as well, no doubt, also individual members and followers. As I alluded to last month, we would need to have a structured approach and a continuing programme of maintenance, carried out by volunteers, who had registered their interest, by putting their names on a list.  This would require someone to take on the administration of the scheme, contacting those on the list, to find sufficient numbers available to join work parties, on specific dates and generally ensuring the smooth running of the scheme. which brings me to the very real problems facing your committee at the moment.We are entering into a period of transition, having, at last, established a working relationship, with the EA., due in large part, to the efforts of Olivia Morton, the EA. Biodiversity Officer. This does mean, that we can now have a more active role and hence more influence, on the future of the wood.

Until now, we have run with a very small committee, but have recently lost our newest member, due to her increasing family commitments and are currently running with only four active members, which will not enable us to carry out the ambitious programme we had hoped to be able to, during the year.  I very much appreciate your support, the encouragement and kind words, that have been expressed to me, over the years, but if we are to have a meaningful role in the future of Park Wood, it is vital that we have more help on the committee and active participation by members and followers, in the various upcoming schemes.  Before you dismiss the idea of joining us on the committee, all that is required is, some of your spare time and a passion for the wellbeing of the wood. There are those on the committee with expertise in various fields, who will offer support and guidance and those, like myself, with no particular skills, who will also offer you support and assistance.   

When I became chairman, way back in August 2017, I had never done anything like this before, which simply proves, that what I have done, any of you could have done. Please don’t be afraid to come forward, you may surprise yourself and you will gain immense satisfaction by being actively involved.  There are several specific roles we need to fill, one of which I have already mentioned, but I would suggest that if you are tempted to give it a try, that we hold a special committee meeting, where we can all meet up, to discuss the various roles on offer. There would be no coercion to take up a post and no recriminations, if you decided it was not for you.

Please do not leave it to others to take up the challenge, as if everybody else does the same, we are no further forward. Contact me at the Park Wood email address ; 

Your committee needs you, do it today.

Paul Rees Chairman FoPWH

7th March 2022 – Chairman’s Report

A lot to talk about this month, including our second meeting with the Environment Agency.

The first item is the ongoing maintenance programme, being run by TCV. This did not start well, with poor communication and a lack of suitable equipment, hence a poor take up. With much improved publicity and help from FoPWH. Things have improved and I am pleased to say that the latest sessions have been much more successful. There are three more sessions scheduled for March, to conclude the current programme.  These are; 

Thursday 10th. March 10.00-13.00.

Sunday 20th. March 10.00- 13.00.

Tuesday 29th. March 13.00- 16.00.

Any help you can give, on any, or all of these dates, would be much appreciated and would give a much-needed boost to the efforts being made to make some necessary improvements to the wood. Contact TCV. to register, if you are able to attend any of these sessions.

At our meeting with the EA. last Thursday 3rd. March, the question of maintenance and the TCV. sessions were discussed at some length. It was agreed that FoPWH. should be more involved in future, eventually taking over the running of these sessions.  I would wish to see a far more structured approach to these and I will put forward a detailed plan on how we can achieve this in next month’s report. It will require a lot more involvement from members and followers than has been the case so far. If we are to make a difference to the wood it will require a sustained effort, from a considerable number of people, but I see this as an opportunity to build community spirit and for people to feel that they are really making a difference, at the same time enjoying time with likeminded people, hopefully including some family participation.

Another item discussed at our meeting was the flooding. The flooded area has been drained again, in the last few days, in order for another survey to be carried out, to satisfy the Parish Council, who seem to have been less than helpful over the matter. I have tried on three occasions to contact them, but have received no replies to my emails, in contrast to the NHS Estates Dept. (owners of the land) Bunny Run Nursery and the EA. all of whom have dealt promptly with my emails. I should also make clear at this point, that the EA. have gone well beyond their remit, in dealing with the flood and will be making a financial contribution to this latest survey, together with, Bunny Run and NHS. Estates this latest survey is most unlikely to provide a resolution to the problem, which will clearly take a considerable time to resolve. Unfortunately, the solution that I put forward has not found favour, so we will have to see what other solutions are on offer, once the survey is completed. Digging a trench and putting in a new culvert around the new Community Hub is not an option, on the grounds of cost and disruption. A great pity that it was ever built, with a fine Chapel building, just up the road, ripe for conversion.

The Paths Consultation was another item discussed. There were over seventy responses from individuals and groups, including FoPWH. and I am pleased to be able to tell you that the suggestions for changes to the new paths on the EA. map, put forward by us, have all been accepted. Many thanks to David for all his hard work on the paths issue and to Lynn for her assistance.  Further to this, they have invited us to assist in the positioning of the new direction signs, which will make clear the new routes and hopefully, prevent people getting lost in the wood.  The question of bridges, or more realistically a bridge, was also discussed. There is no immediate prospect of a replacement bridge, but it was agreed that the “Friends” should carry out a costing a feasibility study, with a view to having a bridge in the not-too-distant future, opening up the old route to the big Beech.

The question of communication between ourselves and the EA. was discussed, as I felt, that in spite of having dealt with it at our October meeting, it had not improved. The car park refurbishment being a case in point, it only becoming public knowledge, when notices were posted by the EA. in the car park, although it had been agreed in October that we would have prior notice, in order to explain to members what would be happening. It was agreed that greater efforts to involve us would be made, as we reach a wide audience and that the local community automatically look to us first for information concerning Park Wood.

The possibility of a Service Level Agreement between us, which I had brought up at our last meeting, was another item discussed. Unfortunately, there is no question of such an agreement for the foreseeable future, but formal agreements for specific projects are a definite possibility. Such projects, under a formal agreement, can attract funding grants and if we were to adopt charitable status, something I have long advocated, we would be even more likely to be successful in gaining grants. 

As is clear from the above, it was a wide ranging and positive discussion, with a far better understanding of each other’s aims and problems. I believe that the EA. have, at last realised how useful we can be to them, in their efforts to engage with the community and I also believe that they are sincere in their wish to do so. I came away from this meeting with a positivity that was lacking at the conclusion of the last one and I welcome the opportunity for us all to work together to make Park Wood into a place we can all be proud of.

Paul Rees Chairman FoPWH

The refurbishment of the Grove Hill car park has been put back until the 21st March., after which time it will be closed for approximately four weeks. Until then it is open for public use.

15th February 2022 – Chairman’s Report

As most of you will be aware, there is a programme of low-level maintenance being carried out in the wood. This was arranged between TCV. and the EA. and is scheduled for dates during February and March. Dates are available on our Facebook page and our website. These sessions are open to anyone who wishes to volunteer, including supervised children and necessary equipment will be provided. All you need to do, is to register your interest with TCV., (not FoPWH) and turn up on the day, in suitable clothing and footwear. FoPWH. were not involved in setting up these maintenance sessions, but once aware of them, have done our best to publicise them. We will let you have our analysis on these sessions in the April report, when the current series has finished.

We have another meeting with the EA. scheduled for the 3rd. March, at which we will be discussing the paths consultation, the continuing poor communication between us, the flooding and woodland maintenance, among other relevant matters.

The flooding situation has been eased by the digging of a trench along the farm land to the Northern edge of the wood, channelling the water running off the fields into one of the streams running West to East, in the wood. This has considerably reduced the amount of water entering the flooded NHS land and the Bunny Run land, but is not a cure for the problem and periods of heavy rainfall will continue to flood the area.  I have been in contact with all the parties affected and I am still trying to arrange a meeting with them, to discuss an idea I have for a permanent solution to the problem, which is environmentally friendly and relatively inexpensive to set up. I hope to have some news on this by the time of my next report. 

With regard to this issue, I must stress that the EA. have done all they can to help and are prepared to do another pump out, but before this happens, there has to be a plan in place to solve the problem.

Other news is that the Grove Hill car park will be closed for the whole of March, for resurfacing and drainage work to be carried out, which should cure the ongoing problems in that area. Also please be aware of contractors carrying out tree work at the moment and take care when you are in the vicinity of these works.

Kind regards

Paul Rees

Chairman FoPWH

20th January 2022

Dear Members,

Don’t forget the Environment Agency’s Consultation on the potential footpaths in Park Wood finishes on the 27th January 2022.  Have your say; here is the link for it:

Environment Agency Link To Consultation

Also, one of the reasons that Park Wood is designated as a Local Wildlife Site is due to the presence of scarce and rare bryophytes (mosses and liverworts). If you would like to learn more about these and join a field meeting hosted by County Recorders on 13 March 2022, please let Sue McCallum know by emailing’ 

Places limited to around 5 and will be allocated on a first come first serve basis.

10.15 for a 10.30 prompt start – 15.00, however no obligation to stay for duration.

Please bring wellies, a hands lens (if you have one) and lunch!

Meet at the car park.

Sue McCallum, FoPWH

(On behalf of the Environment Agency and the County recorders).

9th January 2022 – Chairmans’ Report

First, on behalf of the committee, I would like to wish all our members and followers, a happy and healthy New Year.  I have quite a lot to talk about this month, so apologies if this report seems a bit long winded.

Following a recent committee meeting, it was decided that we should suspend reintroducing the membership fee for another year and review the situation at the 2022 AGM. The reason for this decision is that we have a healthy bank balance and with no large items of expenditure anticipated this year, we can afford to hold off reintroducing the fee.   This means that, everybody on the emailing list continues to be a full member and anybody who wishes to be added to the list, automatically becomes a member.  This situation may need to change at the next AGM, should we manage to achieve some kind of agreement with the EA. during the year and need to spend money on items of equipment etc.

The next item is the paths consultation. I consider this to be deeply flawed but we have been promised discussions on our alternative suggestions for path changes and our request for the reinstatement of at least one bridge, at our next meeting with the EA. I know that it is difficult to access the EA. webpage on the consultation, also navigating it and then trying to understand the paths maps, without any landmarks for guidance is confusing but it is worth persevering with if only to register your views on the bridges, if nothing else. As the current custodians of Park Wood, the EA. need to listen to and act upon, the wishes of the local community. I believe that FoPWH. Is the only organisation that effectively represents that community and this is the reason that we listen to and welcome your comments and suggestions concerning the wood and the very reason for our continued existence?

The EA. have commissioned TCV, a volunteer organisation, of which we are a member, to carry out some low-level maintenance work in the wood, on dates during January and February, details of which are available, should you wish to volunteer.

The vexed question of the flooding of the NHS. Land adjacent to the pond, which has once again rendered the main path into the wood impassable, is the next item I can update you on.

Following the draining of the area for a second time and the subsequent investigation by the EA. it was ascertained that, as expected, the blockage of the culvert was caused by the foundation piling for the new Community Hub, having breached the culvert.  Having heard nothing from anybody since the confirmation of the cause, last week I emailed all the interested parties, these being, Bunny Run Nursery, NHS. Estates, the EA. and the Parish Council. To date I have only received a reply from Bunny Run Nursery and learn from this that there was a meeting in December, of these parties and also Wealden Council, at which, in spite of the overwhelming evidence, the Parish Council are unwilling to accept the findings, which means further delay in solving the problem and the additional expense of a more detailed survey.  The revelation that a meeting on the flooding had taken place recently, without our being informed, was extremely disappointing, particularly since at our meeting with the EA. in October, we were promised more cooperation and better communication between us, in order to keep our members up to date with all matters concerning Park Wood. Clearly a subject for further discussion, when we meet again in February.

With all best wishes for the New Year.

Kind regards Paul Rees. Chairman FoPWH