We are absolutely delighted that Little Paxton Parish Council have awarded the Friends of Paxton Pits a Community Civic Award for our work giving back to the community of Little Paxton. Presented to Mike Thomas and Trevor Gunton at the very successful Autumn Flower and Vegetable Show on 12 September, we are very proud to have been given such recognition.
Image by Peter Hagger
David Butterworth, the Treasurer of the Friends of Paxton Pits Nature Reserve, outlines some of the financial difficulties the Friends face thanks to the Covid-19 crisis – and shares his thanks to all of our supporters.
It will come as no surprise to learn that the pandemic has had a huge impact on the Friends of Paxton Pits’ funds in 2020. Two of our main sources of income, namely the Visitor Centre shop and the programme of events, were reduced to zero for 6 months and only now are we able to offer limited opening of the VC, while events are still cancelled for the rest of the year. In cash terms, the VC would normally average £3,000 per month in sales plus £300 for second-hand books and a significant sum in donations. The talks, guided walks, and social events would have added considerably more to the total.
Of equal importance is that we have been unable to extend our renowned welcome to all our visitors and provide the interaction and information at events and in the VC, all of which has made people value the Reserve and come back time and time again. Our face-to-face recruitment of members has also had to halt, which means our total number of paying members has reduced, and that includes the income that comes with it. Sadly, the fire which destroyed the Kingfisher Hide and some mindless vandalism has brought some additional, unexpected bills.
But it’s not all bad news. Following the fire we have received a considerable number of donations, many of them very significant, which will allow us to replace the Hide and undertake several other restoration projects. I have tried to write to all the donors to thank them but I know there is small number who have remained firmly anonymous. To them and to all our supporters can I offer heartfelt thanks.
I believe that our members and supporters have a real sense of ownership of “your” Nature Reserve and without the army of volunteers and the generosity of so many people we could be in real difficulty. As it is, we are able to carry on our programme of conservation, expansion and improvements to visitor facilities, albeit by also dipping into our rainy day reserves, but really because of your support. Thank you for keeping your Treasurer happy.
If you enjoy spending time on the Reserve and appreciate the work the Friends do to look after this special place, please consider joining as a member. It costs as little as £4 per year and helps provide us with financial stability, particularly through these difficult times.
Damselfly image by Peter Hagger
We’re doubly celebrating the British Dragonfly Society’s (BDS) Dragonfly Week this year as Paxton Pits has been designated a Dragonfly Hotspot!
You can find 26 species of dragonfly and damselfly on the Reserve, a bumper number of species and worthy of Hotspot status, so we’re absolutely delighted to be designated by the BDS this July. We hope that this will raise awareness of our brilliant local Nature Reserve and give people yet another reason to cherish this wonderful place in the heart of Little Paxton.
Though we had planned a celebratory party for the summer, this has had to be postponed, like so many other things, until 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic. However you can still visit the Reserve to see what species you can find, and join in with our celebrations online by sharing pictures on our Flickr group or on Instagram using the #paxtonpits hashtag.
After being closed for virtually 4 months the Visitor Centre is reopening again, albeit on a limited basis. It will be open from 11am until 3pm on the 15th and 16th July, and again on the 22nd and 23rd July. Further times and dates will be announced as we go on, and we’re looking forward to welcoming visitors back into the space.
The Hunts District Council (HDC) team, and especially Robyn and Kirsty, have put a lot of work into making the Centre Covid-secure, with a one-way system and take-away drinks available only. Entry to the centre is via the back of the building which is clearly marked, and card payment is preferred on all purchases (no minimum spend!).
Please respect the measures we have put in place to protect the staff and volunteers, both in the Visitor Centre and also on your walks around the Reserve.
The Wildlife Trust BCN Education Centre will also be open to families again over the summer holidays, with a pre-booking system and strict measures in place to keep everyone safe. Debbie is really looking forward to welcoming people back, so do keep an eye on their Facebook Page for more information on how to book.
Our annual report which gathers together all the sightings at the Paxton Pits complex over one year has now been published for 2019. Available to read on our website (along with reports from previous years), all the sightings have been gathered by volunteers, including for our WeBS and bird ringing surveys.
Thank you to everyone who has contributed sightings, taken part in wildlife surveys, and helped the Friends to produce this brilliant report.