Author Archives: Nicola Lynes

New Gnomes and Toy Trains

This is a story of generosity, of kindness and of garden gnomes. You may remember the great ‘Gnome Massacre’ at Echills Wood Railway in Kingsbury Water Park earlier this year, where dozens of gnomes that had been donated over the years were smashed overnight by vandals.

Well, one Tamworth based group decided that they wanted to help. SkillsTank from CareFirst, a group for adults with special needs, bought and handpainted several gnomes with the intention of donating them to the railway in replacement of the damaged population, and this week they were able to donate them in person.

Such an act of generosity gets repaid in kind! When the Echills Wood Railway volunteers heard that SkillsTank were visiting Kingsbury Water Park with their gnomes, they decided to put on a special chartered train ride for the group. After being met and briefed by Railway staff, we were taken round to the new gnome village, where the group were able to give their gnomes a new home next to the railway lines. This was followed by not one, but two, circuits around the Park on the toy trains, put on especially for the SkillsTank group. The friendliness and kindness of the Railway staff was met with vigorous waving all the way round the tracks!

Nicola Lynes, the Youth Engagement Officer for the Tame Valley Wetlands, said “part of what we try to do within the Tame Valley Wetlands is to connect different groups of people and work together for the benefit of the environment and people who live within the Wetlands.”

The Echills Wood Railway is a miniature railway located in Kingsbury Water Park and runs passenger services on weekends – find out more on their website www.ewr.org.uk

The Tame Valley Wetlands youth engagement programme aims to increase connection between young people and their local natural spaces. For more information, contact Nicola at youth@tamevalleywetlands.co.uk

Discover, explore and conserve – a John Muir Award Tale

Students at the Kingsbury School have been on a journey of discovery with the Tame Valley Wetlands as they explored their local country park as part of their John Muir Award. Working through the stages of ‘Discover’, ‘Explore’, ‘Conserve’ and ‘Share’, 12 students made the Community Wetlands at Kingsbury Water Park their base for their outdoor adventure.

The John Muir Award is a national environmental award, open to anyone. It encourages communities to explore and care for their local wild spaces, and share their discoveries along the way. The students from Kingsbury School spent 5 weeks completing their award, culminating in a presentation which they have shared with the rest of their school. Activities throughout the journey were decided upon and led by the students, and included building a bridge to cross a stream, fitting coir mats to improve the vegetation growth on the Community Wetlands, installing kingfisher nest boxes and learning to light fires using natural materials to ensure a ready supply of hot chocolate!

Nicola Lynes, Youth Engagement Officer for the Tame Valley Wetlands had this to say about the programme:

It has been great to see the students improve in confidence and ability throughout the award. They have learnt about the natural world on their doorstep, and have developed a care and understanding for their local areas through engaging with the environment and having fun outdoors.

This project is part of the Tame Valley Wetlands – a landscape partnership scheme supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund, aiming to create a wetland landscape, rich in wildlife and accessible to all.

The Tame Valley Wetlands is led by Warwickshire Wildlife Trust in partnership with a wide variety of organisations including charities, local groups, statutory bodies and councils. Staffordshire Wildlife Trust is a partner on this project, employing a Youth Engagement Officer to improve outdoor youth provision in the Scheme area.