Friends Of Park Wood Hellingly

Reports 2023

17th November 2023

Hi all,

Our first piece of news this month relates to the FoPWH committee.  Both Paul and David, having made an amazing contribution over the past few years have decided to stand down and we will be very sorry to see then go.

Paul, as you will know was our Chairman up until this time last year and has stayed on the committee for the past year, to make sure that he was leaving it in good hands.  Paul, along with a handful of others was one of the founder members of the FoPWH and if it hadn’t been for his determination, passion and commitment, the campaign, as it was then, would never have got off the ground.  Paul has been the driving force, his determination and commitment ensured that the wood didn’t get sold.  He has continued since then to ensure that the wood remains as it is for everyone to enjoy.

David came onto the committee in the very early days and his extensive and relevant knowledge on so many different subjects has been invaluable.  Paul has said many times, that the right people joined us at the right time, all with different skills and knowledge and David has been a huge part of that.  David raised the credibility of the group because of his profession approach and knowing the answers to lots of questions.  David created a detailed Woodland Management Plan which the Environment Agency then used to create their own.   David also mapped the woodland paths; the Environment Agency used this mapping, to place the new marker posts. 

Thank you both so much for everything that you have done in the past few years. 

Our ongoing suggestion for the committee moving forward looks like this: 

  • Jill & Sue to remain as joint Chairpersons, Secretaries, including membership and treasurer.  To do anything as and when it is required. 
  • Rachel & John are our Special Projects Managers, i.e. the bridge, the flooding and management plans, anything that might arise and basically anything that might need a bit of time or knowledge spent on it. 
  • Alex and Caroline between them, will be running the Volunteer Groups.  We have been deep in conversation with the Environment Agency within the last few weeks and are hopefully close to being able to put the volunteer groups together.  All things being equal this will hopefully be something that gets off the ground in the spring.
  • Carrie who was previously on the committee has very kindly agreed to re-join us.  Carrie was previously a wiz with the website and social media and is going to take on these tasks again. 

With all of the changes that have happened recently, it was left a bit too late to arrange an AGM for this year.  We are hoping to organise a meeting with a relevant speaker, in the spring when the weather is a little kinder and the evenings start getting a little longer.

We would love to hear any comments that you might have about the new format of the committee.  As always if any of our members want to get more involved, we would love to hear from you.  Likewise, if you fancy doing some volunteering please email the Park Wood email address .  We still have the previous list of volunteers and will be back in touch with those people when we have some more information. 

We are looking into closing down the Limited Company, it’s never been used for the purpose that it was set up for and it makes some additional tasks with companies’ house and the Inland Revenue. 

There is very little that goes into and out of the FoPWH bank account nowadays.  We still have a healthy balance and a statement of account, including all of the transactions for the past financial year has been prepared and is available to anyone that might want to see it.  Again please use the Park Wood email address, if you would like to see this information and it can be sent out to you. 

As mentioned earlier, if anyone has any thoughts or comments that they would like to make, either about this message or any matters generally, please get back in touch. 

The Friends of Park Wood – Hellingly Committee. 

9th October 2023

Dear Members, 

We have recently been discussing the future of the Friends of Park Wood Hellingly group in our committee meetings. Our remit has gone from the early days of preventing the sale of the wood, to now, more protecting the wood and dare I say, promoting the wood, what it offers and why it is important.

 As such, we will be at this free community event on Wednesday 18th October at Hailsham Methodist Church, 7.30 -9.30pm.

We get a steady stream of new members to our Facebook page; therefore it would be helpful to have a couple more Admins on the page. If you are Facebook savvy and have a small amount of time on your hands, please contact us at


FoPWH Committee

Car Park Closure – A Message from the Enviroment Agency

We will be closing the car park because we need to carry out some maintenance work. The car park will be closed for no longer than one day between Tuesday 20 September 2023 and Friday 29 September 2023.

We are unable to confirm the date due to the unsettled weather and our flood risk duties. Apologies for any inconvenience this may cause you.

1st September 2023

I am writing this in August, although you will likely not read this until the beginning of September.  Another season has passed and we are now staring into Autumn.

Regarding the flooding issue close to the car park, both the Friends of Park Wood Hellingly (FoPWH) and the owners of Bunny Run nursery have made attempts to find out what solutions may have been proposed by experts engaged by NHS estates. A freedom of information request has been put in regarding this and we await a response.

If you have been in the wood recently, you will have noticed a large area in the centre, close to the stream, has been cleared, allowing greater access to the central path from the path along the car park side of the stream. Fewer bramble scratches and nettle stings on future walks.

The subject of the planning application at Park Farm East will be considered by members of the planning committee on 7th September. The meeting commences at 10.00am, and will be held at the Civic Community Hall, Wealden District Council Offices, Vicarage Lane, Hailsham, BN27 2AX.  Both FoPWH and the Environment Agency (EA) have put in objections and will be represented at the meeting.

A slightly soggy August has by the looks of things led us to have a fabulous fungus spotting season ahead. 

We are thinking ahead to the AGM and should have an interesting speaker to entertain us all, after the formal piece.  The venue and date will be confirmed as soon as we know them. 

Kind regards

Rachel Alvares Chairman FoPWH 

30th July 2023

Apologies for missing June’s report. Life had dealt me a poor hand and I have been busy trying to reshuffle the cards. 

Summer and mostly dry weather is upon us, meaning the paths, for the most part, have dried out. If you have walked in the last week or so, you will have noticed that along the path bordering the NHS land, some of the more muddy areas have been infilled with inert material. I believe the area where the boardwalk was removed will undergo the same treatment.

The plastic matting in the car park has been brought up as a concern by many of the committee, our members and the EA themselves. This is being fed back to the manufacturer as it is clearly not fit for purpose.  More gravel has been ordered for this area. I should imagine that this would involve the car park being closed for a short period and this will be notified on due course. Maybe it will be the first notice in the new noticeboard.

Thank you to all our members who have taken water with them for the new saplings around the car park in the drier weeks.  This has kept most of them going to give them a chance to grow a good root system.  There have been some good wildlife sightings in the wood recently, with signs of dormouse breeding, glow worms, and I personally have had the best butterfly count in several years.

As you know the FoPWH was born to prevent the wood from being sold off and carved up, and although that threat has passed, we are now trying to protect it from the worst of the developments that are chomping at it’s borders.  NHS estates has put up some of their land for sale for development at the Hellingly site, which includes the old chapel.  I am constantly surprised by how little protection there is for sites like ours, although recommendations for planners exist.  Unfortunately I am regularly reading news stories of communities fighting to retain their woodlands or trees being felled despite having preservation orders on them.

Our aims and objectives as below haven’t changed, but the reason FoPWH was formed is no longer an imminent concern. Therefore what would you, our members, like to see from us?

Mission Statement
To maintain and preserve the flora and fauna of this precious Ancient Woodland and to ensure free community access for present and future generations to enjoy in perpetuity.

Our Aims
To safeguard the future of the wood through building a strong membership “friendsofparkwoodhellingly. community group.

Your input would be greatly appreciated.


Rachel Alvares Chairman FoPWH 

14th May 2023

Hi everyone,

I have had several conversations with people who say they do not see much wildlife in Park Wood. There are obviously the squirrels and the birds, who flit between the trees too fast for me to see what they are much of the time. We are sometimes treated to a glimpse of the deer, but many of the other species are elusive and hiding until we pass.  I took the time this week to peer into one of the streams closely and saw water crickets mating, a saucer bug and some amphipods. I wonder what creatures our members have managed to spot around the wood.

The smells of the wood is intoxicating at the moment and in some areas, it appears the bluebells extend on for miles. It makes it feel like the outside world doesn’t exist while you’re in amongst that natural beauty. The wood anemones are just starting to die down, but early purple orchids can still be seen.  A spell of dry weather meant that the path from the car park was dry for a few days but after the bank holiday it is a little soggy all around the wood, but it seems better accessibility will come with the fine weather.

Recently, we appealed for new members to join our committee and I am delighted to say that at our last committee meeting, we welcomed Alex and Caroline, who are enthusiastic about the wood and will be getting stuck in to jobs we need to do, such as arranging path improvements with the Environment Agency.

Finally, work is ongoing to get Maggie’s bridge, replaced, I’m sure you will appreciate that much paperwork must be produced before construction can commence.


Rachel Alvares Chairman FoPWH

15th April 2023

Now Spring is finally with us, the temperature is up and the dark nights are behind us. For me it is when life begins again after hunkering down through the winter.  Park Wood has started producing its wonderful carpet of wood anenomes and the first few bluebells are blooming.


If you have been for a walk in the wood in the last couple of weeks, you will see that the boardwalk along the right hand path has now been removed. When I went for a look last week, the material was still on site, so that the EA can check what is salvageable, and then make plans for what will go in its stead.  The paths are not great at the moment and in our upcoming discussion with the EA, we will be talking about path maintenance, in order that the main paths are usable, preventing additional paths being furrowed, especially now that nesting season has begun.

In regard to the ongoing flooding, on the path from the car park, it has worsened again with this lovely spring weather we are having. The NHS Foundation Trust (as that portion is their land), have engaged an expert to assist with possible solutions to the issue, so that together with Hellingly Parish Council, they can come to a resolution.

I hope you are able to visit the wood in the coming weeks, as it is in my view, the most beautiful of seasons. If you are unable to visit, I hope there will be a glut of photos shared on our social media.

If you are a social media whizz, and have a small amount of time to spare, please get in touch at


Rachel Alvares Chairman FoPWH

19th March 2023

I can see that spring has made the squirrels chase each other flirtatiously around the woods these days and the bird activity has increased.I’m going to cut to the chase. We are a small committee and we would like to have some new members to enable us to enact all of our plans. Things that you could help us on would be; organising events, helping with the social media side of things, and if you have a first aid qualification and/or experience of leading, you could help run one of our volunteer days.  If you feel that you could help in anyway, please email We don’t demand much of your time, and it really is for a worthwhile cause.

You will have noticed that around the car park, the hedging has already gone in. This was always planned to be a volunteers task, but due to issues we have had with TCV, the EA took the decision to do this themselves before the window of opportunity closed.  More news on volunteer days will follow in coming months.

After representation made by friends and EA as land owner to the planning committee regarding Park Farm East proposed development WD/2022/0294/MAO , WDC have also raised concerns that the ecological impact survey was carried out 3 years ago, which makes it inadequate for the current proposal. They are concerned about the legally protected species and Park Wood irreplaceable habitat of ancient woodland and how small the buffer zone is between the wood and the development.  Please have a look at the planning application and if you have not already done so, highlight your concerns about the prospect of more houses being built in such close proximity to Park Wood.

In regards to biodiversity, if you have records, or you take note of what you spot while out in park wood, it would be great if you could add these to iRecord I know there are people with varied species interests who use the wood and it would be wonderful to get a picture of how many species our wood supports.
Our committee member John Pitcher has put in some great work in producing a map, using the app what3words, in order to help people navigate around the woods.

What Three Words – Park Wood Map

Finally, the path running alongside The Drive will be closed this coming week, while essential maintenance takes place. This is to remove the rotten boardwalk. This is not to be replaced immediately but feasible alternatives are being looked into.

Environment Agency Notice

Enjoy all of the springtime treats the wood has to offer.

Rachel Alvares Chairman FoPWH

11th February 2023

The darkness of winter is finally coming to an end.  I have been reading my kids “The Story of the Root Children”, where Mother Nature wakes her children and gives them coloured cloth to make their new clothes for the spring, red for poppy, blue for bluebell etc. Looking at the woodland floor this week, it seems they’ve been awakened and are furiously sewing their fine outfits, ready to flower in the coming months.  

This month’s highlight for the committee has been a trip to Jarvis Wood, following an invitation from the owner, Francis Gimblett. This lies just to the North of Park Wood and we were all eager to discuss our shared history.  In the lovely open woodland, there is evidence this area was once used for smelting iron, with an iron bloomery. We saw a site of iron stone extraction leaving a deep cut in the land. There were a series of ponds, which would have been used to run a waterwheel to work the bellows and to power hammers which would help to pound the iron.  Jarvis wood is at a higher elevation to Park Wood and these ponds eventually drain into our ghyll. 

Close to the edge of Jarvis Wood, near the border with Park Wood, Francis showed us an area by the stream where the darker soil showed that charcoal was once burned here. We even found some charcoal at that spot.  

As we all paused to imagine people working on this land hundreds of years ago, a White Hart and his does let us glimpse them through the trees, harking back to the time when this area would have been a deer park. The map here from 1640, shows the bounds of this and the remains of these can be seen across both Jarvis and Park Woods. This deer park would have been owned by Nicholas Pelham at the time the Herstmonceux site was owned by Lord Dacre. 

We continue to work with the EA on our plans for running volunteer days in Park Wood, in order to preserve the wood’s natural ecology by ensuring that the paths are well maintained, especially now nesting season is on the horizon. 

Kinds regards

Rachel Alvares Chairman FoPWH

24th January 2023

Apologies for this incredibly belated Happy New Year greeting.

2023 looks likely to bring more extreme weather events, such that we experienced in 2022.

It will be interesting to see how the flora and fauna cope with this. The RSPB Big Garden Bird Watch this coming weekend should allow us citizen scientists to get involved.

Our first volunteer days took place in December, with the first being very well attended, despite the freezing temperatures.  However, since the New Year we have unfortunately had to postpone due to high winds. We have now taken the decision to postpone any further volunteer days until further notice due to the flooding situation in the wood causing access problems.  Discussions continue with the Environment Agency as to the best way to move forward with this, as we would like it to be a meaningful way for members to help look after Park Wood as well as allowing the opportunity to get out in the fresh air and enjoy social interactions.

If you find that January keeps you inside due to illness, or difficulty accessing the wood, I would recommend having a look at a book by German Forester Peter Wohlleben. In The Secret Network of Nature (ISBN 1784708496),  he describes how the natural world is full of unnoticed connections, which keep things finely balanced and what happens when these systems become unbalanced.

Kind regards 

Rachel Alvares Chairman FoPWH