Michael Emsley (centre) with some of the volunteer workforce who have helped to create a new woodland on the edge of the Nidderdale community of Dacre Banks
Michael Emsley (centre) with some of the volunteer workforce who have helped to create a new woodland on the edge of the Nidderdale community of Dacre Banks

Woodland planting scheme proves piece of cake for volunteers


An ambitious bid to plant thousands of new trees on the edge of a Dales village has proved a piece of cake for an army of community volunteers!

Thanks to the baking skills of Gwen Jordon – the partner of landowner Michael Emsley – her culinary creations helped to keep hungry workers going while a field behind Holy Trinity Church in Dacre Banks was transformed into woodland.

The completion of the project – which has seen the planting 3,500 saplings – was marked by a ceremony for volunteers and friends, complete with a buffet provided by Gwen!

Over the last eight months, Nidderdale Conservation Volunteers, members of Open Country as well as children from Summerbridge Community Primary School, Dacre Braithwaite Church of England Primary School and Darley Community Primary School, all helped with environmental project.

The newly-planted wood links up with historic, Dales woodland, thought to date back as far the Neolithic era.

However, the work has also included drainage work which has helped to alleviate flooding on the nearby B6451 as well as the graveyard at the church.

Landowner Michael Emsley said:

Of course, we’re enormously grateful to all who have played a part.

We hope each and every one will look at the new woodland with pride, knowing they had a part to play in creating something which future generations will cherish for years to come.

But, looking forward to Gwen’s cakes was something which kept us all going so we thought we shouldn’t forget to say a huge thanks to her too.

Also attending the ceremony to mark the completion of the project backed by the Yorkshire Millennium Trust were Philomena Noonan, from Open Country – a Harrogate-based organisation which offers people with disabilities opportunities to work in the countryside – and woodland conservation consultant Phil Lyth who advised on the scheme.

Mr Emsley also presented Laura Buckley from the Nidderdale Conservation Volunteers with specialist equipment, which will aid speedy planting of cell-grown trees in cultivated ground in future.

Mr Emsley said:

There have been quite a few highlights over the past eight months – not least the use of a venerable 1947 `Fergie’ tractor to help with some of the heavy drainage and planting work.

The children were fantastic too – and Summerbridge and Dacre Braithwaite schools will be returning to plant bulbs and wild flowers at the end of the year; an outdoor classroom area will also be established using waste timber from Nidd Valley Sawmills.

But, although she isn’t one for the limelight, we thought Gwen’s contribution shouldn’t go unremarked so we would like to raise our hats to Nidderdale’s own Mary Berry.

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