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/