Rustic Step Renovation

When we began the flight of rustic steps deep into the quillet in 2013, we used lengths of coppiced hazel for the horizontals and, ransacked our garages and garden sheds for pieces of scrap wood to use as the retaining stakes. For subsequent work we’ve used properly treated timber. To be honest, we’ve been surprised by how long those first steps have lasted; perhaps because it’s quite dry under the trees. However, some have now started to disintegrate badly and have become dangerous, so our recent work party on 24th November concentrated on fixing those in particularly bad repair. This work will continue at our next scheduled work party on Sunday 26th January (meet at 10.00 in Chapel awn Village hall car park). Do join us: coffee and cake provided.

Ollie Holder and Anthony Morgan – true professionals.
A very proud Mark Limbrick

Successful fund-raising campaign continues

Nearly forty people have very kindly offered to support the Redlake Valley Community Benefit Society in its purchase of an additional quillet of woodland, which has now been named ‘Henry’s Quillet’ after its late owner, Henry Richards. The Directors of the Society are delighted that the many generous offers of money have made this possible and are now arranging the formal completion of the transaction.  However, there is still a small shortfall which is currently being bridged by a no-interest loan from a well-wisher. The Society can receive money both as shares and as donations and we welcome contributions of either in order to repay our loan and encourage new shareholders.  It is also possible to make contributions under both categories  and one payment could include both. 

Shares enable the purchaser to become a full voting member. Because each shareholder has only one vote irrespective of the number of shares owned, the minimum number of 100 one-pound shares ensures that all members have demonstrated a proper level of financial commitment.  There is also a maximum of £500 to protect the Society’s financial wellbeing because shareholders have the right to withdraw their shares and the Society must make reasonable provision against this happening.

Donations are unlimited in amount but there is no right to vote and no automatic right of return of money.  From the Society’s perspective, however, they have a significant financial advantage when given under the Gift Aid scheme.

Anyone wishing to contribute, and for the Society to fulfil best practice guidance, it is necessary to complete an application form (and perhaps two). These can be found on this website along with an explanatory share offer document by clicking here.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or if you would like either of the documents in hard copy. You can get in touch through the contact details at the foot of this page.

With best wishes,

Anthony Morgan,
Treasurer to the Redlake Valley Community Benefit Society

Henry’s Quillet – Success!

Dear Supporters of Brineddin Wood,

Thanks to the pledges of nearly forty people in, around or connected to The Redlake Valley to make finance available to purchase 5.3 acres of Brineddin Wood, we can report that our informal tender offer has been accepted and we stand on the threshold of significantly increasing our ownership on behalf of the local community. This is great news and we are very grateful to those who (subject to contract) have made this possible.

Although contributions fell just short of the figure we targeted as an appropriate offer, the difference between what has been pledged and the tender price has been made up by an interest-free loan from an anonymous benefactor. We now have until the 15th of November to complete the purchase and we have instructed solicitors to act on our behalf. Of course, any further donations and/or share purchases will be most welcome to help us repay our loan. Naturally, there will be an event for shareholders (old and new) and other contributors to help us celebrate this success.

For those who might appreciate a reminder of how the Society operates, our reasons for owning the quillets on behalf of the community are various. First and foremost, the Society is more than ‘just a piece of woodland’. It wants shareholders, residents and visitors to the valley to enjoy the tranquillity of Brineddin Wood. That’s why a flight of rustic steps was built that leads people up the slope and deep into the trees (if you’ve not yet ventured up there, now’s your chance). School children, young adults with learning difficulties and unemployed adults have helped work on woodland management in order to enjoy nature and learn new skills. The two woodland fairs in 2012 and 2017 promoted local businesses and brought people together. Friendships have been formed which otherwise might not have happened.   Secondly, the Society wishes to encourage a greater variety of wildlife. From the exterior, the wood is beautiful with its canopy of oak cloaking the hillside. Internally, although visually attractive, all is not well. The hazel understorey is ageing and failing to regenerate and ground flora is sparse, resulting in a reduced volume and variety of invertebrate and bird species. By enclosing a part of the woodland to protect it from predation, and with some very light thinning of weaker trees, coppiced hazel is already thriving and will encourage a greater variety of wildlife. A larger piece of woodland provides greater scope for this.

Third, the history of the wood is fascinating and possibly unique. The Society has traced its existence to medieval times as a probable extension of a hunting chase. It has also traced the practice of ‘quilleting’ to the early 17th Century, and the succession of quillet ownership to the early 1800s. There is probably more to discover. In that historical context, the Society has suggested to its former owner John Richards, that the new acquisition shall be called ‘Henry’s Quillet’ in memory of his late father, Henry, and to reflects previous ownership by an established family in the valley. John has readily agreed to this.

With best wishes to all, 

From the board members of the Redlake Valley Community Benefit Society

Update on possible purchase of additional woodland

Dear Supporters of Brineddin Wood

I’m delighted to inform you that there has been a very encouraging and prompt response to the request for support in buying an additional quillet in Brineddin Wood.

Thanks to the many generous people who have made promises of money, the total is now well on the way to reaching what the Directors of the Society consider a fair price for the extra land.  Fortunately there has also been an offer of a loan on favourable terms to cover any shortfall.

At a Board meeting on 16th October the situation was considered carefully.  The Directors are confident that submitting a tender for the 5.3 acres adjacent to the Society’s current quillet is the right course of action.  Although efforts to raise further funds to minimise the loan will continue, the Directors have concluded that the Society would not be exposed to undue financial risk.  Help from anyone else prepared to contribute would naturally be appreciated.  In this respect we have received enquiries as to whether shares can be bought in memory of others or on behalf of children and grandchildren.  The answer to both questions is yes – though there are legal restrictions on anyone under 16 years of age owning shares themselves.

A tender bid will therefore be submitted before the deadline on 21st October.  There is, of course, no guarantee that it will be successful but the Directors remain hopeful that we will be able to extend our vision for Brineddin Wood to be an asset which is sensitively managed in the interests of natural beauty, biodiversity and community cohesion.

With many thanks to you all.

The board members of the Redlake Valley Community Benefit Society

Please help us purchase a second quillet.

Society Shareholders will have already received this notice. Others may not have, but I am sure that you will all know or remember our quillet in Brineddin Wood as a lovely strip of sessile oak woodland which our Society holds for the benefit of our 45 shareholders, Redlake Valley residents and visitors to the valley. We continue to maintain it with regular work parties, and we closely monitor the deer exclosure that is successfully enabling hazel coppice to regenerate.

Brineddin Wood in the spring
(copyright Sarah Jameson)

A once-in-a-generation opportunity has now arisen for us to bid for the adjacent quillet to the left of ours.   The area of our  existing quillet is just under two acres. The one that is for sale is 5.3 acres. Together they would create a fabulous community woodland at a time when the urgency of  increasing biodiversity has never been greater.  

But we have to raise funds against a tight deadline for the submission of an informal tender by 21st October.

Subject to general shareholder approval, which is being sought this week, the Society’s directors are of the view that we should attempt to gain sufficient commitments of funds to submit a realistic bid.

Hence this email to everyone we know who is  supportive of our activities and might like to either join our membership by investing in shares or making a donation (which will attract gift aid for UK taxpayers) to help with this potential purchase.

Without wishing to show our hand in a competitive bidding process, but in order to provide an idea of the order of money involved and the necessary fund-raising process, it’s worth pointing out that our existing, smaller quillet cost £7,000 in 2011, and that we bought it using money from a core of original investors, an interest-free loan from an enthusiastic supporter and a grant from Shropshire Hills AONB.  A programme of recruiting additional shareholders eventually allowed the loan to be repaid.  We believe that a similar approach would be needed again this time, although grant aid is less likely against the timescale. As before, we will probably set the minimum shareholding at £100.

If you feel that this is something that you could support, we would very much like you to make contact.

Of course, there is no certainty that the Society would be successful in acquiring the new woodland even if it is able to raise enough money.  Furthermore, the possibility of a later fund-raising effort to repay any loan and to support management of the new woodland would have to be addressed, but we have ideas on how this might be achieved. All of these, and other matters, will be discussed at our next board meeting on 16th October.

Irrespective of this opportunity, we are always pleased to welcome new shareholders, and this applies should any bid we submit prove unsuccessful.

For further information, the following people are happy to be contacted. Do, please, pass this email on to anyone else you think might be interested.

Patrick Cosgrove (RVCBS Director): 01547 530347, pccosgrove@icloud.com

Bob James (RVCBS Director): 01547 530395

Simon Jameson (RVCBS Director); 01547 528546, simon@1066creations.co.uk

Karen Limbrick (Society Secretary): 01547 530002, limbrick85@btinternet.com

Mark Limbrick Society Chairman): 01547 530002, mark@addoldy.co.uk

Anthon Morgan (Society Treasurer): 01547 530342, agmorgan100@btinternet.com

A successful 2018 AGM

The 26th June must surely have been the warmest evening of the year so far, and we were delighted to welcome 18 shareholders and 13 members of the public to our 2018 AGM in the Redlake Valley Village Hall. Chairman, Mark Limbrick, reported a busy year, with work parties in the quillet, visits to other woods and, of course, last October’s highly successful Woodland Fair. Treasurer, Anthony Morgan, followed this up with a very positive financial report (available on request to those shareholders who weren’t able to attend), and suggested that we should now create a reserve fund for any contingencies that might arise. Shows of hands from shareholders present supported two proposals. The first was that the Society should register its objections to the scale of development proposed by the Forestry Commission for a holiday park in Mortimer Forest.  The second was to reassure board members of their confidence in them to open negotiations on any future sale of a quillet in Brineddin Wood without repeated recourse to shareholder opinion.

The AGM was followed by a fascinating and well illustrated talk by biologist and author, Andrew Allott on ‘Woodland in the Marches from the last Glaciation and into the Future’. Andrew studied Botany at Oxford and entered teaching, first in Kent, then for 26 years as Head of Biology at Shrewsbury School until his retirement two years ago. In addition to authoring Biology text books, his major work, ‘The Marches’, No 118 in the highly regarded Harper Collins New Naturalist Series, is what he describes as his “Love letter to the Marches”. Andrew went to great pains to turn generalisations on how The Marches was affected by the series of ice ages and recolonised by tree species into very specific thoughts and authoritative speculations on how these would have manifested themselves in the Redlake Valley. It’s unlikely that anyone in the audience will now be able to drive up the valley without visualising the advance and retreat of successive waves of ice, and how, after each retreat, plants species would have gradually gained a hold on the stony terrain left behind.

A few shareholders who weren’t able to attend asked if we could film Andrew’s talk, which we did. We plan to show this later this year, so anyone else who is interested is most welcome to get in contact.

IMG_6129

Andrew and Alison Allott with RVCBS Secretary, Karen Limbrick, at the top of the steps in Quillet 2879

Andrew visited the Society’s quillet earlier in the day and left us with some valuable advice on future management.

 

GUEST SPEAKER FOR 2018 AGM

Our 2018 AGM will be held on Tuesday 26th June in the Chapel Lawn Village Hall. The AGM will start at 7.00 pm and will last for approximately half an hour. There will then be a short break before a talk by our guest speaker, Andrew Allott, on “Woodland in The Marches from the Last Glaciation and into the Future.”

Entrance fee is £4.50 although there is no charge for RVCBS shareholders. Members of the public are very welcome to attend the AGM; otherwise please arrive at about 7.30 for the talk.

RVCBS AGM notice 2018

Summary of a Botanical Survey of Brinedin wood

Regeneration of woody species is perhaps the biggest problem in Brineddin Wood with the two main factors being deer grazing and lack of light penetration through the canopy.  Without recruitment of young trees, the wood is under threat in the long term.

That is the conclusion of a survey carried out by the Shropshire Wildlife Trust which could only give the wood a ‘Satisfactory’ rating.  For the summary report click here to be redirected to another page on our website.

 

 

PINE MARTENS

Although long suspected, research at Aberdeen University shows that areas with growing pine marten populations have seen grey squirrel numbers fall because unlike red squirrels they provide easy prey for the predators. The article at this link describes the work of the Shropshire Wildlife Trust’s Pine Marten Project. Our Society has been pleased to work with SWT Project Manager, Stuart Edmunds.  At the Woodland Fair last October, Stuart’s talk on the return of the Pine Marten was well attended, and a camera trap he placed in the quillet has produced a very good night time image of a pine marten as it passed through, no doubt tempted by the irresistible aroma of decomposing chicken liver pate which, apparently, is what they like best of all.  

Pine Marten