Author Archives: debbie

Push to halt winter spike in New Forest animal road deaths

New Forest commoners are urging drivers to be extra careful this winter to reduce the annual spike in animal road deaths after the clocks go back.

In total, 56 animals were killed last year, one of the lowest years on record. However, the two months after the clocks change are the most dangerous of the year as the evenings become darker.

So New Forest commoners, the families who own the animals that graze the Forest, have teamed up with other organisations to take their drive safe campaign on the road this winter.

They have produced five near-life-size animal silhouettes that display the number of ponies, cattle, donkeys, pigs and sheep killed last year. The silhouettes will be placed in local towns and villages throughout winter. They provide an eye-catching reminder of the importance of driving carefully to local people, who are responsible for the majority of animal road deaths.

Although the total number of deaths is 40% lower than a decade ago, thanks to a range of initiatives, there is still much work to be done.

Poor driving on New Forest roads can have devastating effects. Commoner James Young, whose pony Brock Brocade was killed in a hit and run incident, said: ‘This is the most worrying time of year for every family making the effort to keep the Forest properly grazed. Pure-bred New Forest ponies like Brock Brocade are now a rare breed. Every one matters to its owners and to the Forest.

‘No pony deserves to be left all night to suffer like Brocade in an unreported hit-and-run. I really hope that people will learn to take a little more care, and save other commoners from experiencing such a pointless and awful loss.’

The silhouettes are just one part of a wider campaign that includes new temporary warning signs deployed by Hampshire County Council on key roads and the police mobile speed camera van which is out in the Forest day and night. There will also be a social media campaign urging drivers to slow down and #add3minutes to their journey.

The free-roaming animals are vital in maintaining the protected New Forest landscape — it’s their grazing which helps maintain one of the best places in Britain for nature and for people to enjoy. The ponies, donkeys, cattle, pigs and sheep are owned and cared for by commoners and every animal killed is a great loss to the Forest, and to its owner. The animals have right of way on New Forest roads.

Sue Westwood, Clerk to the Verderers, said: ‘Drivers should be aware that they are very likely to encounter animals on the Forest’s roads, day and night. Animals don’t have road sense so please help avoid accidents by driving slowly and carefully.

‘Failing to report an accident with a commoner’s animal can lead to prosecution. The Verderers offer a reward of up to £5,000, payable to anyone providing information which leads to the successful prosecution of a driver responsible for a hit and run accident.’

Nigel Matthews, of the New Forest National Park Authority, convenes the Animal Accident Reduction Group of local organisations. He said: ‘The majority of commuters are responsible, slow and careful drivers across the Forest. But it’s easy to get complacent and we know that you are three times more likely to kill or injured an animal in the Forest after the clocks go back than before.

‘So we’re taking this campaign on the road to encourage local people who use high risk routes to please #add3minutes to their journeys in the darker nights and drive slowly for New Forest animals.’

If you own or manage a prominent location in the centre of a New Forest town or village and would like to host the silhouettes for two weeks this winter please email rangers@newforestnpa.gov.uk

If you are involved in a road accident involving livestock ring the police on 999 (emergency) or 101 (non-emergency).

The Bell Inn – Forest Led, Forest Bred and Forest Fed

The Bell Inn are celebrating a new and exclusive relationship with Tom Hordle of Tom’s New Forest Beef.

Tom Hordle age 28, is the youngest New Forest Commoner to be grazing his herd of Hereford cattle in the breath-taking landscape of the New Forest.  Following a unique collaboration, Tom has entrusted award-winning Chef, Mark Young and his amazing team to be the only restaurant to feature his New Forest reared beef on the menu.

Passionate about his herd, Tom produces quality sustainable beef in the traditional way. Many of Toms herd are hand reared and all roam freely feeding naturally on grass and plants. The incredible health benefits from eating meat produced this way has been widely publicised but of equal importance is the quality of life these animals experience.

Working with skilled butcher Mike of The Farmers Butcher, Mark will create mouth-watering dishes using 40 day dry aged beef, and a £1 donation to the New Forest Trust (supporting the conservation of landscape, wildlife and the traditional commoning way of life) will be applied.

Tasty teasers like Pastrami and Beefy Burgers will appear on the menu to coincide with the New Forest Food and Drink week, Monday 29th October to Sunday 4th November.  The full New Forest Beef experience will be showcased at the November Supper Club.  Come along and meet Tom……where he promises to share stories such as “Tom…Where are those Cows!!,  talk about his life as a young commoner and what is was like to appear on the popular TV Series “A Year in the New Forest”.

To book: contact reception, call 023 8081 2214. Booking essential. £10pp deposit required on booking. Group seating.

New Forest conservation group wins Royal approval

The Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire presented ‘the MBE of voluntary service’ to Pondhead Conservation Trust on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen.

Pondhead Conservation is a New Forest community woodland project restoring 200 acres of Crown woodland on the outskirts of Lyndhurst. Run entirely by volunteers who provide over 4,000 hours of free labour each year, Pondhead Conservation works with various diverse groups within the community.

The woodland is managed on a fully sustainable basis and work is funded by running craft courses and producing high quality BBQ charcoal, which is sold through a network of New Forest outlets. The project’s overall aim is to improve the woodland’s biodiversity and increase public enjoyment of the space.

The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service is the highest honour that can be bestowed upon a voluntary organisation in the UK and is subject to a rigorous selection process, with the final decision resting with the Cabinet Office in London. The award was established to mark the Queen’s Golden Jubilee in 2002, there have been only 38 recipients in the county of Hampshire.

The award comprised a commemorative glass crystal together with a citation signed personally by the Queen. Founding members and Trustees Dave Dibden and Derek Tippetts received the award on behalf of the group.

Over 40 people gathered in Lymington on Wednesday 5 September for the award ceremony with many of the group’s volunteers present.

In thanking the Lord Lieutenant Atkinson, Derek Tippetts expressed thanks to the New Forest National Park Authority and New Forest Trust for their initial generous funding of equipment. The National Park Authority has provided advice and over £23,000 worth of grants to the project since the start. Derek also thanked the Forestry Commission who granted their license for the restoration work.

Pondhead Conservation Trust runs a varied programme of tasks and events throughout the year and always welcomes new volunteers and visits from local organisations and businesses. Full details can be obtained via their website at www.pondheadconservation.org.uk

Bumper year for Love the Forest scheme

People and businesses who ‘Love The Forest’ have come out in force to help fund projects to keep the New Forest special for years to come.

The Love the Forest visitor gift scheme encourages visitors to donate or adds a pound to their hotel, restaurant bills, or product sales which are then given out in community grants for conservation and education projects. Last financial year nearly £28,000 was raised.

Over 30 businesses are taking part, including Greenclose Hotels (the Montagu Arms Hotel, Beaulieu, and Careys Manor, Brockenhurst) which has raised nearly £20,000 since 2007; New Forest Ice Cream which has raised £2,500 through sales of peach melba ice cream since 2013; and the Balmer Lawn Hotel, Brockenhurst, which raised £30,000 over eight years.

The scheme is part of the New Forest Trust charity and is administered with help from the New Forest National Park Authority. Grants of up to £5,000 are available and more organisations are encouraged to apply.

Calshot Nature Club is one of the projects to benefit from a recent Love The Forest grant.

Club leader Viv Drake said the £720 funding provided after-school sessions for families to help them learn more about New Forest habitats, wildlife and the commoning system. Visits included meeting a Forest keeper, seeing charcoal made at Pondhead Community Woodland in Lyndhurst and exploring the reptile centre near Lyndhurst.

Nearly 20 adults and children attend the club. Viv said: ‘The sessions are very informal and hands-on. The families say they always learn something and really enjoy it and look forward to coming each week.

‘If we understand the New Forest we’re more aware of how to look after it – like why you don’t have fires and don’t fly drones on the Forest – and can pass this on to other people too.’

Alison and Chris Wilson own the Balmer Lawn Hotel, Brockenhurst, which adds a discretionary £1 to leisure visitors’ accommodation bills which it donates to the Love the Forest scheme. They are celebrating reaching their £30,000 total.

Alison said: ‘It’s surprising how the one pounds add up! We are very pleased to put something back into the Forest – the tourism industry relies on the Forest as part of our product. If we don’t support it and ensure it’s looked after and cared for, we won’t have a business so we should protect it. We’re a family-owned business and we live in the Forest so the more support we can give, the better.’

To support the Love the Forest scheme, find out more about the projects it supports or apply for a grant, visit: www.newforesttrust.org.uk/love-the-forest

Calshot Nature Club hopes to continue every Wednesday in term time from 12 September meeting at St George’s Hall, Calshot. Details will be on the club’s Facebook page.

Donations from New Forest Inn help revive BBQ’s for New Forest locals

The Bell Inn has raised over £30k in donations to the New Forest Trust

Having collected donations from guests and diners for several years, The Bell Inn, this month, has raised a landmark sum totalling more than £30k for their chosen charity – The New Forest Trust. 

Donations at the Inn were raised through room bookings and specific dishes on the menu. The money raised enables the charity to fund projects that conserve and protect the unique landscape, wildlife and the traditional commoning way of life within the New Forest.

Owner of The Bell Inn, Robert Crosthwaite Eyre, said “We sincerely grateful to all our guests who have contributed to this significant sum – we can’t thank them enough. We’re always keen to do what we can and it never ceases to amaze me how guests support getting involved, helping us ensure we maintain this special place where people work, live and visit, for generations to come!”

Having achieved a record amount in donations, The Inn was keen to see where the money is spent, so visited Pondhead Conservation Trust, one of the projects to receive a grant from their donations.

Pondhead Conservation Trust benefited from a ‘Love New Forest’ grant to install a new charcoal retort. Managed entirely by volunteers, Pondhead is a community woodland project working in partnership with the Forestry Commission. Its aim is to improve the biodiversity of the 13th century Royal Deer Park (just outside Lyndhurst) via sustainable, wood coppicing techniques – the oldest method of wood management – to sustain and support the woodland and its wildlife.

Years ago, coppiced woods provided the timber for charcoal production. Thanks to some of the donations raised by The Bell Inn, Pondhead has revived this historic New Forest industry by installing a modern, environmentally friendly kiln to burn the hazel and birch coppiced on the 200 acre site. The result is converted into high quality BBQ charcoal, sold through local outlets, hotels and shops in the New Forest, often going no further than 10 miles from the tree.

Founder of Pondhead Conservation Trust, Dave Dibben, said ‘When we started this project in 2014 we were heavily reliant and extremely grateful for any grant donations and were delighted when we were able to purchase the charcoal retort. It enables us to be self-sustainable with wood from the site. The charcoal we produce is high quality that lights easily and burns evenly and is even used by artists for drawing!’.

William Ziegler, Chairman of the New Forest Trust said “The New Forest is indebted to anyone who donates to these great causes throughout the New Forest. They’re hugely important to the long term well being of our cultural and environmental heritage.

For more information about The Bell Inn and how they support local suppliers and projects, or to book a table or room at The Bell Inn visit: www.bellinn-newforest.co.uk  

For a list of charcoal outlets or for anyone interested in volunteering for Pondhead visit http://www.pondheadconservation.org.uk/