Corby woodland up for its second award in a month

Representatives from Corby Council and volunteers in Thoroughsale and Hazel Woods after the woods were awarded a Green Flag Award in 2013
Representatives from Corby Council and volunteers in Thoroughsale and Hazel Woods after the woods were awarded a Green Flag Award in 2013

The woodlands of Corby have been nominated for their second award in the space of a month.

At the start of August, Corby’s woodland was celebrated by being awarded its fourth Green Flag Award.

Now Corby Council is hoping that it can start September in the same manner as Thoroughsale and Hazelwood has been shortlisted for an APSE (Association for Public Service Excellence) Service Award.

Corby Council has made it through to the final list in the Best Community & Neighbourhood initiative with the Corby Woodlands Project which is a commitment by the council to provide safer, welcoming woodlands.

The project has been in place since 2007 and has overseen a huge amount of improvement work to Thoroughsale and Hazelwood.

Recent successes include:

- The deep clean operation in 2009 in which – over a 10 week period, with the help of over 60 volunteers - a huge community initiative was undertaken in removing 26 tonnes of rubbish from the whole site

- More than 60 Friends of Hazel and Thoroughsale volunteers now volunteer on a weekly basis

- Volunteers fully involved in small scale thinning and coppicing intensifying and delivering positive biodiversity outcomes. A total area of 14.289ha has been coppiced over the past five years

- 16 primary schools engaged in environmental activities within the woodland through school led activities and a thriving Forest School programme

- More than 40 Tresham College have received either a Duke of Edinburgh Award or a John Muir Award as a consequence of the experience they have gained from being involved in operational duties on site. The groups also undertook a ‘skills for work’ programme

- Four community groups from the voluntary sector including the job centre, social services, COBWEBs (adult with severe learning difficulties) and the probationary service volunteer on a weekly basis

- A woodland ranger post has been created providing a full time presence in the woodlands

- A network of more than 6000m surfaced paths provides a hierarchy of safe and attractive primary, secondary and tertiary routes throughout the woods for all users

- Signage installed providing a mixture of finger poste signage and information boards offering educational information on the woodlands history and location

- 29 robust lighting pods installed along a primary pathway linking the boating lake and the town centre. The lighting is on each night from dusk till dawn

- A new interface linking the woodland and town centre creating a seamless transition between rural and urban

- Foxy’s Woodland Shop opened in April 2014 and sells a range of products made from timber extracted from the coppicing programme such as netted seasoned firewood and kindling, rural craft products, environmental education products and wildlife books. All surplus income is spent on protecting and conserving all local woodlands and green spaces in Corby

The APSE Service Awards 2015 will take place on September 3 in Swansea where the winners for all categories will be announced following an independent review by an expert panel.

In a letter announcing the borough council as a top finalist, Louise McMillan, principal advisor for APSE, said: “It gives APSE great pleasure to announce that following a rigorous selection process, your organisation has been selected as one of the top finalists.

“The awards have attracted over 450 submissions with over 125 organisations taking part from across England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

“Only the best submissions have been shortlisted in each category and we would like to take this early opportunity to commend you for reaching the finals of this year’s awards against such impressive competition.”

Leader of Corby Council, Cllr Tom Beattie, said: “Every single one of the volunteers and officers involved in the project should be extremely proud to be shortlisted for this APSE award.

“It speaks volumes about just how far the project has come and just how proud we should be as a community of our unique woodland.”

Chairman of the Woodland Steering Group, Cllr Peter McEwan, said: “Corby’s 75 hectares of ancient woodland, Hazel and Throughsale Woods, were in a poor state and avoided by local residents and visitors.

“Now, due to the hard work and dedication of everyone involved in the project the woodland has completely transformed into a beautifully central park for Corby that is now extremely well used and popular with all age groups.”