January – December 2017
We have had another good year, both activity-wise and with membership. Attracting new blood to help with organisation is our single biggest problem, however, and the next two years will see at least two of our current committee members standing down, beginning with Julia at the January 2018 AGM, and Liz Hanson declaring the same intention for the 2019 AGM. It’s really great that we have time to think about future plans, and we are really hopeful that 2018 could be the year that sees new faces around the table, rather than trying to cover everything with the same group of people.
At the AGM in January 2017, John Bromley stood down from his position as a general committee member. Although no longer on the committee, John remains extremely active, contributing both to conservation activities and to dry stone walling in Northcliffe. Thanks to John for all he has done, and continues to do, for Friends of Northcliffe.
We would like to thank all the people who help us with our activities – our members, volunteers, event leaders, committee members and the general public who support our events and activities so readily. We also thank the groups we collaborated with and whose facilities and services we used this year, such as Bradford Model Engineering Society (BMES), Northcliffe Environmental Enterprises Team (NEET), Northcliffe Allotments Society (NAS), Shipley Club, St. Paul’s Church, Bradford Environmental Education Service (BEES), Kirkgate Centre and RSPB Bradford and Airedale Local Group. Thanks are also due to Morrisons and Paul Kelly, the manager of their Idle Enterprise 5 store, for their generous support of our Santa Special, and also to Q20 Events, who lent us props for Santa’s grotto. And a final thank you to Bradford Council for their continued support, particularly the Parks & Landscape Service and the Trees & Woodland Team.
The newly established midweek group first met in March and has made a valuable contribution towards delivering the management plan agreed with the Council. The group meets once a month on the third Tuesday, with over 20 people on the email list. Fourteen different people have turned out, of whom 10 are regulars. Some people come for the full day, others regularly do a morning or an afternoon. Average attendance at any session is 5-6, and so far 208 hours of volunteer time has been provided in 9 months. Regular reports have been provided to the Assistant Woodlands Manager, who attended site visits to agree the management plan.
Tasks undertaken vary with the season but include
creating a tree nursery and a wild life area in the old allotment area
repairing the muddy paths through the woods and at the bird hide with the council providing the wood chippings for us to lay
replanting the beginning of Old Spring Wood after the big ash tree had been felled.
We continued with a programme of weekend and evening sessions, however there were slightly fewer than in previous years. We held two winter woodland sessions thinning beech and sycamore saplings and removing dangerous branches. Three balsam pulling evening sessions occurred in June and July, and there were two days working with the BEES Conservation Volunteer Group in and around the pond. Altogether 30 people have been involved in the weekends and evenings (16 FoN and 14 BEES volunteers), totalling 46 volunteer sessions.
In January thirty-five bird boxes were erected in Northcliffe and Old Spring Woods. The design has varied to cater for the needs of different species; different sized holes, owl boxes and tree creeper boxes. They were cleaned and checked in the autumn and 29 had been used. More boxes will be put up in January 2018, thanks to the generous donations made by members. A big thank you to the many members who gave to our birdbox appeal with their subs.
We have continued to feed the birds all year, with thanks to the team of helpers coordinated by Hugh Firman. Special thanks should go to Ken Shipley who brings the large bags of seed to the storage bins, and to Val Harris who stores the fat balls and delivers them as required. Thank you to all who take home the feeders for cleaning from time to time.
Thanks go to all the people who contribute to the conservation throughout the year
all our volunteers
Joan Milligan for providing many of the trees which have been planted out or into the tree nursery
Northcliffe Allotment Society - especially Ian Ashe - for allowing us to develop part of their project site, and for their provision of tools and a space to meet and store our stuff and their general support to our group
NEET for letting us have our lunch in their coffee shop.
Everyone is welcome to join the conservation sessions; no prior experience is necessary, and any contribution is welcomed. If you wish to be added to the email list for the midweek group, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
After eight years on the committee as Conservation officer, Julia is intending to stand down from this role at the AGM in January 2018. Val is willing to coordinate the weekend and evening sessions but if you are interested in leading sessions please contact FoN - support will be given to develop the leadership role.
As last year, despite the continuing lack of an events officer, we have still managed to put on a selection of events in 2017. It’s very unlikely that this would happen without the continued involvement from Melanie Bruzzese, who continues to ensure our major events take place.
The regular Big Garden Birdwatch took place in January, with the support of members from the Bradford and Airedale RSPB Group. The Easter Bunny picnic took place in April, with help from our Friends at BMES. And the willow butterflies once again took up residence for the summer in the meadow, where they remained until late September.
There was a wildflower walk in June, which attracted 19 people for a stroll around Northcliffe to discover more about the flora. This event may be repeated this year, with an early evening timeslot.
The Rae Gala took place on the first weekend in July, and the fantastic weather on the day ensured another very well attended event. Thanks as ever to all our stallholders and performers, and Sean Gardner from the Council’s Parks & Landscape Service once again played a blinder on the day. Many thanks also to BMES, volunteers from FoN and people who made donations of cakes and money on the day – without you, the event would not be the success that it is.
The fourth annual Santa Special, in conjunction with BMES, rounded off the year. Booking was opened much earlier this year in order to give more notice to our retail partner, Morrisons Idle Enterprise 5. Most sales were direct to BMES and FoN members and family/friends, with the small number remaining only needing a few days in the noticeboards to completely sell out. The event is now almost all members only, so we are again advising people to join if they are likely to want to book again next year. Thanks to all the volunteers from FoN and BMES who helped in the run-up and on the day, particularly Melanie, Rebekah, Ken, Sheila and John (Santa). We’d also like to thank Morrisons Idle Enterprise 5 for their generous help with gifts, and Q20 Events for the loan of props for Santa’s Grotto.
A massive thank you to all our event leaders and generous members, who have donated their time, baking, produce and prizes over the year. You all do a fantastic job. Thank you also to the Parks & Landscape Service for giving us the continued use of the tennis pavilion for storage of our equipment, we are really grateful, in particular to John Dembickjy who is a great support.
Northcliffe Heritage Project
The Heritage project has had a quiet year, mainly due to the ill health of key players. The work undertaken has been to try and edit all the findings and separate reports on the different aspects of the project into one readable report. The work is now well under way and we expect to publish the full report in 2018 and hold an open meeting to explain the findings in the late autumn of 2018. We plan to publish a shorter summary report for most people who will not want to read the full length version!
For the future, we are considering the ideas of having a self-guided trail through Northcliffe, either as a leaflet, Q code posts or other audio options. Much will depend on the enthusiasm of the group and the opportunity to raise funds.
We continue to have a vacancy for a Promotions officer. Thanks to Joan and Keith, who have again kept the noticeboards up to date with FoN events (especially Joan, who has produced the lists of events). Thanks also to Guy Barford for representing FoN and giving a talk at the Rendezvous Group in July at Shipley Baptist Church.
Ideally we do need a committee member just to co-ordinate. There are offers of help, but it’s difficult for other committee members to co-ordinate that help alongside other responsibilities. That said, we would still welcome help with any of the following without needing to be a committee member:
Filling in and printing events posters for the noticeboards
Contacting the press about events
Sending information to other groups/venues that might be able to promote our activities
Attending events to promote FoN and Northcliffe
Producing materials that help people learn about Northcliffe.
Social media continues to be our strongest promotional channel, in particular Twitter with 887 followers. Facebook also has 259 likes, although this channel sees much less activity.
Two newsletters were produced this year, following the decision taken last year to reduce from three. We would like to thank Phil Morrison who sets out the magazine; the members who regularly deliver it locally; and Shipley Print for their excellent service. Many members receive the newsletter by e-mail only, and this saves us money and delivery time. However a printed copy can always be useful, and passed on to prospective new members. Do e-mail Joan if you would like a printed copy again.
Our current Editor, Liz Hansen, has said that she would like to hand over the newsletter to someone else after 2018, or sooner if we can find a willing volunteer. So if you are the creative type, or enjoy writing, or just have an interest (or know someone who does), then please get in touch.
At one stage during the year 209 members were recorded, but the number is now down to 183 as 23 members failed to keep up with subscriptions after several reminders. This includes some who asked not to continue membership after moving away from the area. A few have been deemed as paid because they gave donations in the previous year 2016/17.
Some people have already paid for the year 2018/2019, some of whom paid with the Santa Special applications and some who responded to a written appeal by Steve and paid for 2 years.
We have continued to hold planning meetings at the Shipley Club, and we thank them for their continuing support. We are holding our AGM at the Kirkgate Centre, to maintain our links with and support another important community facility.
Finances continue to be well managed and healthy as evidenced by the accompanying Annual Accounts. We intend to agree a budget at the AGM.
Report prepared by Steve Bruzzese on behalf of the Committee:
Steve Bruzzese (Chair), Guy Barford (Deputy Chair), Sheila Parkin (Secretary), Joan Newman (Treasurer and Membership), Julia Pearson (Conservation), Keith Scott (Website), Liz Hansen (Newsletter), Val Harris (Northcliffe Heritage Project), Joan Stevens (General Committee Member).
With contributions from Joan Newman, Julia Pearson, Val Harris, Melanie Bruzzese and Steve Bruzzese.