It’s great to know that the Heart of England Forest has some wonderful neighbours with whom the charity has an excellent relationship and whose support is highly valued. Among them are the residents of the tiny hamlet of Barton, just a hop and a skip across the fields from Forest HQ, whose charity fundraising efforts have seen them donate to the Forest as part of a major fundraising drive.
A small but mighty village
Despite having a population of just 80 or so, for the past decade Barton residents have set themselves a target to raise £50,000 for local charities, and we are proud to say that the Heart of England Forest is one of the grateful beneficiaries.
What started, in the words of committee member Charles Husbands, as a “pub conversation” some 12 years ago, has now developed into a well-oiled charity fundraising machine. Over the years the volunteers have organised a range of events, but by far the most popular is the annual Riverside Revelry.
Close to the target
There have now been four Riverside Revelries, and with the Heart of England Forest having previously played host to the event at its Dovecote Moorings site, this year saw the event move to the larger Pilgrim Lock venue nearby. The Forest-owned site allowed the organising team to accommodate a wider range of entertainment – from classic cars and motorcycles, welly wanging, tug-of-war, Bidford Area Community Choir, dog agility, face painting and various stalls to a Soap Box Go Kart Competition. The move seems to have paid off, with a large crowd attending and the monies raised edging the Barton Village Fund to within a few thousand pounds of its £50,000 target. The Committee members take care to ensure they undertake distribution of the charitable funds raised in a democratic way, and as Charles Husbands says, “we predominantly give to local charities and they are only chosen after either a village ballot or careful deliberation by the committee.”
After this year’s Riverside Revelry, the Heart of England Forest was extremely grateful to receive a donation from the Barton Village Fund, to add to another received in 2016. The Forest’s Community Engagement Manager, Toby Fisher, explained that “whether fundraising for the Heart of England Forest as an individual or as a village group, this shows how we can all work together to benefit each other across the community.”
The appreciation is clearly mutual, with Barton villagers taking full advantage of the woodland walks that are on their doorstep. As Charles Husbands says, “many locals are dog owners and keen walkers, so the Forest provides a wonderful resource for us. We regularly walk our two dogs in the woods and love following the waymarked walks.” That’s what everyone involved in the Heart of England Forest loves to hear – so it seems good neighbourly relations are set to continue. All power to the good burghers of Barton!
Join in the fundraising fun
Our friends at Barton have set the pace, but could you take a leaf out of their book and raise the stakes? As they’ve shown, fundraising can be fun so why not organise your own charity event on behalf of the Heart of England Forest? Perhaps a sponsored walk or run around our woodland trails or, for the less energetic, a “Cake and Coffee” morning in the comfort of your own home? Set yourself a personal challenge and help us to achieve our aim of growing England’s largest new native broadleaf forest. Look out for us on the www.wonderful.org fundraising website and all funds raised will come to us without being top-sliced to cover admin fees, as with many giving sites. Don’t forget to tell us by email on firstname.lastname@example.org if you are planning an event – we’d love to hear about it!